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November 20, 2018

Australia's Invictus denies finding oil, gas deposits in Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks after being sworn in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 24, 2017. /REUTERS
Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks after being sworn in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 24, 2017. /REUTERS

Australian-listed Invictus Energy said on Friday it had not found oil and gas deposits in northern Zimbabwe but there were indications of a "working petroleum system" which could only be confirmed by a planned exploration well.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters on Thursday that Invictus had found oil and gas deposits in the Muzarabani area and had agreed to enter a production sharing arrangement with Zimbabwe once the project reached commercial production.

But in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Invictus tampered Zimbabwe's expectations of an oil bonanza saying "an oil or gas discovery has not been made."

"The prospective resource estimate for the Muzarabani prospect relates to undiscovered accumulations which have both a risk of discovery and a risk of development," said Invictus.

"Although the Cabora Bassa Basin possess all the elements for a working petroleum system, a discovery can only be confirmed through drilling of an exploration well."

Zimbabwean-born Invictus Managing Director Scott MacMillan attended Mnangagwa's news conference on Thursday.

Mines Minister Winston Chitando said the well would be sunk in 2020 at a cost of $20 million and said the Muzarabani project was the largest undrilled onshore resource in Africa.

Invictus, which is an independent oil and gas exploration firm whose only asset is in Zimbabwe, is using data first generated by Mobil Oil during its studies in the 1990s.

Chitando said Invictus had made more progress than Mobil because it had a better knowledge of the Muzarabani basin which had a similar geological structure to Uganda and Kenya, where oil has been discovered.

The southern African nation is suffering from a dollar crunch that has seen shortages of fuel and a spike in prices of basic goods in recent weeks.

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