By Shapi Shacinda
LUSAKA, Jan 11 (Reuters)
President Levy Mwanawasa said the government would also award a 30 percent stake to a foreign equity partner Zambia’s only refinery, Indeni.
Mwanawasa said soil samples from eastern Zambia had shown the existence of oil and that other samples from the western parts also showed encouraging results for oil and gas.
Zambia first announced oil in its northwestern province in early 2007.
“Further investigations were extended to the eastern province in 2007 where 153 soil samples were collected (and) whose laboratory results are very encouraging,” Mwanawasa said in an address to parliament.
Mwanawasa said the government will create a separate regulatory framework for oil exploration and production for foreign investors who would have to obtain different licences for the two undertakings.
“As a result, the government has suspended the process of invitation to tender until the Act (legislation) is repealed and replaced. A new Bill is expected to be tabled in (parliament) within the first quarter of this year,” Mwanawasa said.
The government had planned to call for bids early this year for foreign companies to start major exploration work.
He said the current law had weak provisions for the exploration and production of oil and also on environmental protection and that these would be strengthened in the revised legislation.
Mwanawasa said he had already appointed a petroleum committee to oversee the development of the oil sector.
“The committee is already spearheading formulation of policies and guidelines relating to petroleum and its development in Zambia,” Mwanawasa said.
“The government and the oil company, Total, who are the two shareholders in Indeni have agreed to invite a third shareholder to take up 30 percent of the shares. The process will commence in the first quarter of this year,” he said but gave no further details.
The move was aimed at attracting fresh capital investment in Indeni Oil Refinery and revamp its operations, Mwanawsa said. (Reporting By Shapi Shacinda)
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