Oil Drilling On Lake Malawi In Ten Years

Surestream’s general manager Keith Robinson

Malawi hopes of scoring the jackpot on oil that is said to be in lake Malawi will have to wait for another ten years according to Surestream, the British company exploring oil on the lake.

Surestream’s general manager Keith Robinson said in an interview with the nation that Oil exploration is a very complicated process and normally takes over five years.

“We know Lake Malawi has a unique ecosystem that we need to study so that the drilling exercise does not damage it.

“We are optimistic that there is oil in the lake judging from significant commercial discoveries in the rift valley such as Lake Albert in Rwanda,” said Robinson.

Surestream Company is working hand in hand with six scientists from Chancellor College who are mainly helping with research on the lake’s ecosystem.

“We know that local experts know their surrounding well, hence, their involvement,” he said.

Robinson said later in the year, they will engage fishermen from Karonga and Nkhotakota to share their experiences and advise how fish can be protected in the lake.

“This is a huge investment and we want Malawians to support it because once oil is found, the economy of the country will improve,” he said.

lake malawi

Malawi has, in the past few years, begun looking at mining and oil exploration. New mining projects in the country include uranium extraction — Australian multinational, Paladin Energy is already mining in Karonga, a district by the western shore of Lake Malawi; rare earth metal exploration — the government has granted five exploration licenses in the past three years; and now, oil exploration in Lake Malawi itself.

President Bingu wa Mutharika believes oil extraction and metals mining would solve the country’s fuel shortage problems and help it tide over the current economic crisis in Malawi. But the spate of prospecting licenses been given out by the government isn’t sitting too well with local environmentalists and fishermen. They worry that local communities, especially fishing communities, will lose out because the projects, especially the ones close to or in Lake Malawi, would impact the lake’s ecosystem and affect fish populations.

However ,Surestream Petroleum has been quick to claim that its operations won’t damage Lake Malawi. The exploration “will involve local biologists, scientists, zoologists and petroleum geologists, international and local independent economists who will carry out the EIA,” company general Manager for Malawi Keith Robinson said in January. But his assurance has failed to convince most environmentalists, including some within the government itself.

Drilling in the lake will not only damage eco-tourism but also the marine environment, says the country’s tourism director, Isaac Katopola. He pointed out that Sunstream’s operations would affect the districts of Karonga, Rumphi and Nkhata Bay — all fishing regions — and would endanger the social and economic lives of millions of people. Katopola expressed regret at the venture would deny local communities their livelihoods.

“The problem we have in Malawi is that law enforcement is a problem and this is the reason why environmental problems are on the increase,” says Reginald Mumba of Rehabilitation of the Environment, a local environmental nonprofit. “If we can only empower the local communities to manage their resources then they will benefit. But in this situation the communities have no say and the politicians just impose issues on them.”

Recently Kenya has also discovered oil in the northern part of the country, where British multinational Tullow Oil has been doing exploratory drilling for years.

Kenyan president described the discovery as “fantastic” news for Kenya.

10 Responses to "Oil Drilling On Lake Malawi In Ten Years"

  1. Mwana wa m'Malawi  June 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    As far as I know, oil drilling and pumping will never help our economy if we do not have our own refinery in Malawi. these dudes will pump the oil and enrich themselves. pumping crude oil cannot help in alleviating Malawi’s energy probelms because the oil will be sent abroad for refining and then we will buy it at a higher price. We need to learn from countries like KENYA who have their own refinery and UGANDA which has an agreement with kenya to refine its oil. IF we just let these dudes mine and sell it and we wait for the tax we will be a poor country and beggers forever. LOOK AT KAYEREKERA, THE MONEY THAT IT BRINGS IS SO LITTLE TO HAVE AN IMPACT. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER TO USE THAT URANIUM AND GENERATE ELECTRICITY FOR OUR COUNTRY, AND PERHAPS LIKE MOZAMBIQUE WE CAN SELL SOME OF THAT ENERGY TO OTHER COUNTRIES…… GOD HELPS US! WE NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THIS OIL THING

    Reply
    • Leonard Mhone  January 2, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I agree, there is need to refine the oil and to use uranium for electricity production.

      Reply
  2. Emmanuel  April 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Surestream go drilling we need to uplift the face of this country but take control of the eco-system and the authorities plan for proceeds out come of this naure and drwawers of contracts of this magnitude need to very careful mindful of proceeds scams and should be to our benefit Malawians make a take or leave it contract.

    Reply
  3. Alexnavisulo@yahoo.com  March 31, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Oh! Pliz leave our lake dont do anything with it bcoz z only few pipo will benefit from it. The fishermen will b in trouble 4 the rest of their lives even the generaxon 2com. These pipo they hav been playin us agame alot so we r sik n tied of them. Tak u cents n gwan leave our beautiful lake.

    Reply
  4. Rud  March 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

    As far as I know, this development has brought mixed reactions from all corners of acemidicians, scientist, biologist, and Malawians in general. In my own case I am being neutral on this issue provided the government takes a holistic approach. This entails carrying out all various activities such as EIA, detailed financial and economic analysis and good contractual agreements that will benefit the rural poor in Malawi.

    The EIA should be carried out by independent consultants who have the experienced in carrying similar assignments. Furthermore detailed financial and economic analysis should be carried out to look at the economic benefits of this project in the short and long run for the poor households. Latsly I beleive if this project really has benefits then proper contractual agreements between the government and the prospected contractor should be handled by experts and make sure that we dont entangle ourselves as we did with the Kayelekela issue

    Reply
  5. Tonde  March 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    These are boys of Tony Blair, soon they will claim malawi has weapons of mass destruction so that they oil. Lake Malawi is on of few lakes fresh water over 400 species of fish.

    Let drink the water when water dries up then we can drill oil. Therez no strategy than stupid british can use that can not affect the eco-sytem.

    At the meantime corruption is going on. Researchers will authorise the drilling cheating us of minimal harzards.

    Reply
  6. Ndugu Ackim  March 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Let it be as it is untill after ten years….by then the duo thieving and corrupt Mutharikas will be dead/gone and our oil resources will be in the hands capable and honest Malawians……. and will be for the benefit of all Malawians…… not just a few.

    Reply
  7. Malawianboy frm capetown  March 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    TUDF PRIVATISE MOST COMPANIES IN MALAWI. WHO BENEFITED FRM THESE SALES?MALAWIANS LOST THEIR JOBS THATS WHAT I KNOW.THIS GOVERNMENT ALSO WANTS TO LEAVE FISHERMEN WITHOUT ANYTHING TO DO AFTER THEY DESTROY OUR LAKE WITH SO CALLED OIL.LEAVE THE LAKE ALONE.OTHER PPLE THEY DRINK THAT WATER.BOMALI DOESN’T KNOW THE RESULTS THAT CAN AFFECT THE WHOLE COUNTRY IF THAT LAKE IS DESTROYED.BE WISE IN UR DECISIONS ON THAT LAKE BEFORE STARTING UR PROJECT.AM AFRAID 4 THE PPLE OF KARONGA,NKHATA-BAY,LIKOMA &CHIDZUMULU ISLANDS,NKHOTA-KOTA,SALIMA &MANGOCH.what about blantyre city?blantyre water board get its water frm shire river,this river its source is frm lake malawi.watch out.

    Reply
  8. PATRIOTIC MALAWIAN  March 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    PLEASE LEAVE OUR LAKE MALAWI ALONE…..DONT DAMAGE IT BECAUSE YOU DONT HAVE FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEM LAKES….GO AND DRILL IN BRITAIN…not here!!!
    LEAVE US ALONE…GO TO HELL WITH YOUR NONSENSE!
    GO FIND SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!

    Reply
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