Tanzania taps Baker Botts to help with LNG talks

Tanzania has selected a UK unit of law firm Baker Botts to advise the country in talks with international energy companies over a giant LNG export project.

State-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation said it signed the consultancy deal with Baker Botts (UK) on Tuesday.

The country is looking to sign a host government agreement with oil and gas firms for the planned LNG project in Lindi, including Shell and Equinor.

Energy minister January Makamba said in November that Tanzania had resumed negotiations with energy firms for the $30 billion Tanzania LNG project.

He said then that the companies include Shell, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Pavilion Energy, and Medco Energi.

Earlier last year, Shell and Equinor called on Tanzania to support the stalled LNG export project.

The move came just weeks after President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office.

Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden also held a virtual bilateral meeting with Samia Suluhu Hassan to discuss the LNG project.

Equinor and Shell are both operators of large gas discoveries off the country’s coast.

The Norwegian firm and partner ExxonMobil discovered more than 20 trillion cubic feet of gas in Block 2 offshore Tanzania. Also, Shell says it has about 16 Tcf of natural gas in Block 1 and 4.

Equinor also said in January it had decided to write down the book value of the Tanzania LNG project on the company’s balance sheet by $982 million. The firm started negotiations with the Tanzania government back in 2018 to set out the commercial and fiscal framework for the LNG project.

It previously said that the Block 2 gas would go to the liquefaction plant in Lindi with a potential capacity of 7.5 million tonnes per year.

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