One day after Zimbabwean officials announced that oil had been found in the country’s north, the Australian company exploring for the oil said that wasn’t so. Invictus Energy says there are “positive indications” of oil, but no one can know for sure until a well is drilled.
Australia-based Invictus on Friday downplayed claims by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the company had discovered oil and natural gas deposits about 200 kilometers north of Harare.
In a statement, the company said its exploration has turned up some encouraging results but emphasized that no discoveries have been made.
Mnangagwa had said Thursday that he had been advised by Invictus that the explorations of oil and gas deposits were “positive and point to gas and oil deposits.”
Exploration well next step
His Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando added:
“On exploitation, the oil will be refined into fuel; both diesel and gas. The gas can be used for power generation and for conversion into fuel. The Muzarabani target is about 200 square kilometers, which makes it the largest undrilled onshore resource in Africa. The next stage is to drill an exploration well at a cost of about $20 million.”
On Friday, the president was more cautious in his statement.
“We are poised for economic, industrial and technological boom,” Mnangagwa said. “Only yesterday I announced possible presence of oil and gas deposits in Zimbabwe.”
Jacob Mafume, the spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change party, says the opposition is not surprised by what he called lies by Mnangagwa’s government:
“The government has always been lying about good news. They are now trying to claim credit for natural occurrences. It turns out that it is a lie. The reason (for lying) is that they have dramatically failed to turn around the economy. He was hoping to be an economic successful dictator like Paul Kagame. Unfortunately, he has no competence to turn around an economy.”
On Friday, some Zimbabweans attacked the government on social media, saying it made people get excited on the assumption the country’s fuel problems would end once drilling starts in mid-2020.
Some also questioned the financial and technological capabilities of Invictus, a 7-year-old company that, according to its website, has no projects outside Zimbabwe.
On Thursday, Invictus Energy officials at Mnangagwa’s press briefing did not address the media. However, the company said in its statement Friday that it aims “to drill the first exploration well in the Cabora Bassa Basin.”