DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania has put on hold a much-awaited natural gas bill that was expected to be passed by parliament this month, officials said on Wednesday, further delaying a law to govern its hydrocarbons industry.
Parliament and government officials had said on Monday the east African nation planned to debate the bill in parliament this month to guide the development of its nascent gas industry.
Tanzania and its southern neighbour, Mozambique, are locked in a race to be first to export gas from Africa’s eastern seaboard after huge discoveries offshore that could transform their struggling economies.
“The natural gas bill of 2015 will not be debated in parliament this month,” Richard Ndassa, chairman of the parliamentary energy and minerals committee told Reuters.
“It is not on the updated list of legislation that will be passed by parliament.”
It was unclear when the bill could be taken to parliament.
Parliament had said on Monday the gas law was among six emergency bills that would be passed this month.
Government officials said they were now waiting for parliament to set a new date for a debate on the gas bill.
“The government is ready to take the natural gas bill for debate whenever it gets the go-ahead from parliament,” Charles Kitwanga, deputy energy and minerals minister told Reuters.
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“The government can’t intervene in parliamentary procedures. Our job is to draft legislation and parliament sets the date for a debate, so we are waiting for further instructions from parliament.”
Tanzania is estimated to have 53.28 trillion cubic feet of gas, and has said that could rise four-fold over the next five years, putting it on par with some Middle East producers.
The country has already published three separate policies on natural gas, including a draft energy policy that gives priority to domestic use of its hydrocarbons resources over liquefied natural gas exports. The gas finds had sparked a debate on how much gas should be used locally and how much can be exported.(Reuters)