Malawi plans to demarcate more oil prospecting blocks

201707 Malawi Mining & Trade Review Oil & Gas Blocks Demarcation Cartoon James Kazembe

Malawi plans to demarcate more oil prospecting blocks

By Marcel Chimwala

The Malawi Government has planned to demarcate more oil exploration blocks to be awarded to multinational oil prospecting firms through a bidding process.

Malawi already demarcated six oil exploration blocks which were awarded to different firms with Block 1 held by South Africa’s SacOil Holdings, and UAE based Hamra Oil holds the licence for Block 2 and 3, Rak Gas MB45 for Blocks 4 and 5 while Pacific Oil acquired the licence for Block 6.

Head of Oil and Gas Section at Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Cassius Chiwambo, says due to growing    enquiries from a number of multinational firms to prospect for oil in the country, the Ministry has embarked on a process to review the country’s regulations governing the petroleum sector to allow the demarcation of the additional blocks.

Chiwambo says:

We have planned six visits to demarcate new blocks to conform to the proposed laws and cadastre system’s requirements.

We have also planned three meetings to review the new blocks and any changes introduced to the existing ones (if any), and presentation on the tenement maps.

There have been concerns from some government officials that the current six blocks will also need to be re-demarcated because they are too big.

Chiwambo says such concerns will be looked into when the government comes up with a new policy and regulations to govern the sector.

Exploration for petroleum in Malawi dates back to the 1980s when US’s Duke University conducted a ship borne seismic survey over Lake Malawi, which was sponsored by over 10 international oil companies including giant multinationals Shell B.V., Mobil and Placid.

The results of this research work indicate that there are thick sedimentary rocks in some parts of the lake-bed with potential for hydrocarbon accumulation,

says Chiwambo.

He explains that based on the results of the University’s research; there is a presence of large structural features which are capable of trapping migrating petroleum.

He says in addition, there is evidence to suggest that potential reservoir rock is being deposited locally along the lake margins, and there is a possibility of such deposits extending into the lake.

Although there is lack of geological evidence to demonstrate thermal maturity and a potential for source rocks, it is plausible to consider the petroleum potential of Malawi as good,

says Chiwambo.

The oil discoveries in lakes in Chad, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, which form part of the East African Rift system, have aroused interest by oil companies to explore for oil and gas in Lake Malawi which is also located within the same Rift system.


This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 51 (July 2017).

The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.


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