Australia-listed Invictus Energy last week said that “exploration activity being undertaken had positive indications that an exploration well would be drilled to confirm the potential of the Muzarabani oil and gas prospect".
But experts said while the discovery could be a game-changer for Zimbabwe, it could cost billions to realise.
“There will be significant investment needed and it’s too early to count the benefits and potential impact, except to say if properly managed this will help lower the import bill and ensure that the forex we use on fuel imports is deployed elsewhere,” said a Zimbabwean consultant engineer working with Invictus on exploration in Muzarabani.
“The investment into this venture will have to be safeguarded to ensure people still commit to new upstream and value chain projects.”
Economists said it was important to prioritise the oil and gas discovery and to speed up exploration.
They also highlighted that Zimbabwe needed to review its petroleum industry policies.
“A discovery alone is not enough. There is still more work to be done and the project still has to undergo bankable feasibility,” said Jeffrey Kasirori.
“If proven to be commercially valuable, this will be a further advantage from our natural endowment and the economy can benefit from job creation and value addition, let alone servicing local demand.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa told journalists in Harare that Invictus findings while exploring for oil and gas in Muzarabani, were “positive and point to oil and gas deposits” in the area.
He further stated that Invictus had “committed to entering a production sharing agreement with the government of Zimbabwe which will be applicable when the project proceeds” to the commercial production stage.
Invictus committed to drill an exploration well by 2020.
“The company (Invictus) wishes to reiterate that an oil or gas discovery has not been made and the prospective resource estimate for the Muzarabani prospect relates to undiscovered accumulations which have both a risk of discovery and a risk of development.
"A discovery can only be confirmed through the drilling of an exploration well,” said Invictus.