Pensioners pray for oil, gas break through

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Muzarabani (New Ziana) –Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are on the cusp of securing a life-changing turn in financial fortunes if drilling tests in the Muzarabani oil and gas project, in which 35 pension funds are invested, confirm the existence of either one or both products, an official has said.

The pension funds, under the banner Mangwana Capital are invested in the project, which, according to initial exploration work, is thought to contain a substantial amount of oil and gas reserves.

The project has now moved to a crucial phase with drilling of the first exploratory well expected to start either before the end of this month or early next month and will run for eight weeks.

The exploratory wells, one to be sunk to a depth of 3.5 kilometres while the second one will go down to 1.5 km, will give a better idea of the full extent of the oil and gas reserves in the Muzarabani prospect following the collection of more than 800 km of seismic data in 2021.

Mangwana Capital chairman, Joe Mutizwa said pension funds including the National Social Security Authority, were invested in the project being spearheaded by Australian firm Invictus and its local partners.

Local pension funds have come under fire for failing to pay meaningful pension pay outs, as such, the oil and gas project could be a game changer.

“The pension funds in Zimbabwe are directly invested in this project, so if we have a successful drilling and discovery and we have real product coming out the pension fund industry which is looking after thousands of pensioners in Zimbabwe will benefit immensely,” Mutizwa said at a media tour of the project.

“This is not just a project that belongs to a few people, the entire pension fund in Zimbabwe is directly invested in this project. If we are successful here this project will be transformative to Zimbabwe, it is a game changer for this country, so let us keep our fingers crossed, let us remain hopeful that we may be successful.”

Paul Chimbodza, Geo Associates managing director, Invictus’ local partner, said $16 million had been sunk into the project over the past four years.

Responding to why they were exploring an area where energy firm Mobil previously investigated and deserted, Chimbodza said Mobil was chasing for oil and not gas, and they abandoned the project because gas did not have a big market back then.

“They were very specific about what they were looking for the 10 years that they were in the country and here in the Zambezi valley. After 10 years, Mobil made the decision that they think that the Zambezi valley or Cabora Bassa basin as we call it is more gas prone than oil, that is they thought that there was more chance of finding gas than oil.

“30 years ago, the gas market, not only in Zimbabwe but regionally, was non-existent. Secondly there had been a gas field in Mozambique, which was discovered in the mid-60s, so Mobil figured out there was no reason for them to start chasing up on a new gas exploration play when there was an already discovered gas deposit in Mozambique.”
Chimbodza added; “This is a first for Zimbabwe we do not know of any other site that has been drilled for oil and gas in Zimbabwe.”

The project has also got the locals excited, with massive job opportunities and local area development among the benefits already accruing.

Chief Hwata, whose jurisdiction the project is being developed, told New Ziana that he was optimistic that the exploration would yield positive results.

“This project is already a game changer especially in my area because before they have even made a discovery, they have spearheaded several development projects including a piped water scheme, solar lighting and renovating a clinic,” he said.

“Initially, 170 youths got jobs when Polaris did seismic exploration, but now it is more than that, it is close to 300 who have gotten jobs because they work on shifts.”
New Ziana

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