DAR ES SALAAM
Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania’s
state-owned environmental watchdog said on Saturday it has given
tough conditions an oil drilling firm before it started drilling
at a game protected area in the Kilombero valley in Morogoro
region to protect the environment.
Swala Oil and Gas
(Tanzania) Plc intends to drill oil in the game protected area
but the east African nation’s National Environment Management
Council (NEMC) said the drilling will be done after it meets
stringent conditions aimed at safeguarding the environment of
The government has granted Swala Oil and Gas (Tanzania) Plc
an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate to drill
oil at the Kilombero valley after it had commissioned
Environmental Resources Consultancy Limited to undertake the EIA.
The consultant produced an EIA report which was reviewed by a
multi-sectoral technical advisory committee that advised the
NEMC on the oil drilling project.
Fadhila Khatibu, the NEMC Director for EIA, said one of the
conditions given to Swala was to give assurance that the firm
will conserve the puku antelope, an endemic species only found
in Kilombero wetland.
About 75 percent of the world’s population of puku antelope
is wetland dependent.
This antelope is now only found in 18 locations in Africa and
its survival, as a species, depends on the Kilombero valley
Khatibu said upon commencement of oil drilling activities,
Swala should also ensure that waste management should be done
outside the Kilombero Game Controlled Area (KGCA) to avoid
pollution and other related environmental degradation.
Other animals found in the KGCA are lions, buffalo,
elephants, crocodiles and hippopotamus.
"The location of the project’s camp site is still in
Swala wants the location of the camp site to be inside the
KGCA while the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism prefers
the camp site to be outside the KGCA," she told Xinhua in an
Glory Kombe, NEMC’s Head of Environmental Monitoring and
Audit, said Swala has also been instructed to use minimum noise
during its operations to avoid disturbing wildlife, including
the puku antelope.
"Also duration of the drilling campaign should be short (at
least four months) to minimize duration of disturbance in the
"Our aim is to ensure that the span of interference is very
short," said Kombe.
She said before, during and after the drilling campaign there
will be close monitoring by relevant institutions, including
NEMC, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the
Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), the Tanzania Petroleum
Development Corporation (TPDC), the KGCA and the Rufiji Basin
"We are doing as much as possible to ensure sustainable
utilization of resources in the area," said Kombe.
Swala Oil and Gas (Tanzania) Plc, which plans to start
drilling oil in September, in a joint venture with TPDC, says it
is aware of the environmental significance of the area and has
been extremely careful over the past four years to carry out its
work there with the minimum of disruption.
David Mestres Ridge, Swala Oil and Gas (Tanzania) Plc chief
executive officer said the firm has already shot two seismic
programs there with no adverse effects on either the environment
or the local communities.
He said the Kilombero license area covered some 16,500 square
kilometers and a number of nature reserves and natural parks,
adding that Swala shall be active only in an area roughly three
times the size of a football pitch which is 150 meters by 150
"Our team shall be isolated from the surrounding environment;
transport shall be kept to a minimum; and all waste shall be
removed for disposal elsewhere," he said in an email interview
with Xinhua, adding that:
"Any impact on the environment from our operations shall be
negligible by design."
Ridge said the conservation organizations are aware that the
biggest impact on the ecology of the Kilombero area is
population growth, which leads to pressure on these protected
sites because of expanding use of land for agriculture and
"We look forward to working with these organizations in
addressing the true causes of pressure on the ecology of this
area," said Ridge.
A hydrocarbon exploration done by Swala Oil and Gas
(Tanzania) Plc has shown that the Kilombero Valley possibly has
oil reserves of between 55.2 million and 547 million barrels.
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