President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged state security agencies to be always on high alert as Invictus Energy said it had made headway in its hunt for oil in the Muzarabani district.
Mnangagwa made the call during the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) annual general meeting in Victoria Falls recently.
Invictus Energy, an Australia Stock Exchange-listed oil and gas exploration, and the Zimbabwe government signed a petroleum exploration development and production agreement to carry out exploration and production of oil and gas.
While Invictus was yet to make its first find, reports of oil endowments have ignited hopes of a change of fortunes in Zimbabwe, which has spent the past two decades battling an economic crisis.
But Mnangagwa warned that while an oil find would be good news, Zimbabwe should also be wary of problems associated with such discoveries. He said:
The Discovery of oil and gas presents unique and competitive opportunities. These include the production of liquid fuels as well as various downstream linkages such as liquid fuels, electricity generation, production of liquefied petroleum gas, fertilisers and use in the petrochemical industry.
While this is an excellent development, it has its negative side. So the Ministry of Defence must be awake because once these things come they attract terrorism.
Zimbabwe’s eastern neighbour, Mozambique, is battling Islamist insurgents in its northern provinces where up to US$20 billion in oil and gas investments by one firm alone have been under threat.
French energy firm Total said in April that it had halted operations on its US$20 billion investment at a liquefied natural gas project as a result of the security threats posed by the extremist insurgents in Mozambique’ Cabo Delgado province.
In Zimbabwe, Invictus energy has requested the government to expand its exploration claims in Muzarabani to about a million hectares, marking another phase in the firm’s hunt for its first find in the southern African country.
The firm is currently exploring oil on a 100 000-hectare special grant where it will sink its first test well by the fourth quarter of this year.