- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 03:02
- Written by PIUS RUGONZIBWA
- Hits: 1439
TANZANIA wants the dispute over oil and gas exploration on Lake Nyasa to be resolved amicably, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mr Bernard Membe said.
"We are studying the matter. It is a very serious issue and could turn into a different shape if ignored. We will issue a policy statement in a due course," the minister said without giving details.
Mr Membe was reacting to reports from Malawi, which earlier yesterday vowed to press on with oil and gas exploration on Lake Nyasa, dismissing a demand by Tanzania that claims half of the lake, to halt prospecting.
"We categorically put it to them (Tanzania) that as far as we are concerned, the entire lake belongs to Malawi," Patrick Kabambe, principal secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, said in a statement.
Mr Kabambe cited a 1890 agreement between the former colonial powers that stipulates the border between the two countries as lying along the Tanzanian shore of the waters of the Lake.
"Our terms are very clear on this, but we will continue to engage with Tanzania as a good neighbour," Mr Kabambe was quoted by AFP News Agency as saying.
The development of the dispute dates back during the colonial era but gained new momentum in September last year, when the former Malawi President, late Bingu wa Mutharika, awarded a British firm, Surestream Petroleum, a licence to prospect for oil and gas on the giant lake.
Mr Membe, however, maintained that the meeting between the two sides scheduled for this month will be held as planned. Last weekend Tanzania called on Malawi government and the companies carrying out exploration of oil and gas in the eastern part of Lake Nyasa to stop doing so until a standoff between the two countries over the ownership of the lake is resolved.
Minister Membe told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting on the issue that Tanzania wants all the exploration activities in the north east part of the lake be halted to pave way for the on-going discussions to resolve the crisis.
"We told our colleagues from Malawi that any exploration or research activities for oil and gas must stop forthwith as their presence was likely to jeopardize the on-going negotiations and pose a security threat," the minister noted.
The minister also said that Tanzania's security authorities have also spotted some aircrafts claimed to belong to the oil and gas researching companies from Malawi flying into Tanzania's airspace without a permit from the Tanzania Aviation Authority.