Confusion swirls over Zim crude oil discovery

CONFUSION swirled yesterday around claims that Zimbabwe had discovered crude oil a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed a Press briefing announcing exploration of the product would be done in Muzarabani.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

While media reports interpreted Mnangagwa’s statement to mean confirmation that there were deposits of oil in the country, the Australian company behind the exploration, Invictus Energy, yesterday sought to play down the claims.

“At no time did President Mnangagwa state that an oil discovery had been made in Zimbabwe, but that the exploration activity being undertaken by Invictus had positive indications and that an exploration well would be drilled to confirm the potential of the Muzarabani prospect,” Invictus Energy said.

While the company’s management attended the Press conference in Harare on Thursday, they did not comment on the issue.

But yesterday, the Australian firm said a discovery could only be confirmed after drilling.

“The company wishes to reiterate that an oil or gas discovery has not been made and the prospective resource estimate for the Muzarabani prospect relates to undiscovered accumulations, which have both a risk of discovery and a risk of development,” the company said.

“Although the Cahora Bassa Basin possesses all the elements for a working petroleum system, a discovery can only be confirmed through drilling of an exploration well.”

Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said there was no discord between the Zimbabwean leader and the Australian company.

“Far from discordance, what we are getting from the company is a measured statement which we fully understand. As a matter of fact, the minister will issue a statement because we have realised there is already confusion,” Charamba said.

“This in business terms is called a cautionary statement. They, Invictus Energy, don’t want the market to beat the Press conference, the minister (of Mines, Winston Chitando) said what has been analysed is data accumulated over time by Mobil Oil and could not be interpreted at the time. We now want to link the data to what we will see from drilling that we said will happen in 2020.”