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Norway's Statoil pegs future to East African gas

Norwegian energy company Statoil said Monday it was putting an emphasis on natural gas developments in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Statoil has over the past few years made significant gas discoveries offshore Tanzania and we are excited about the opportunities we see for a natural gas and LNG development," Statoil acting Chief Executive Officer Eldar Saetr said in a statement.

Statoil and its joint venture partner, Exxon Mobil, in October announced the discovery of about 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place at the Giligiliani-1 exploration well offshore Tanzania. The new discovery pushes the total of in-place gas reserves above the 20 trillion cubic feet mark.

Saetr pointed to a report from the International Energy Agency, which said the sub-Saharan economy could grow by as much as 30 percent by 2040 with the right investment climate in place.

Last year, energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie reported Tanzania was among the growing number of emerging producers in East Africa. Despite the discoveries and opportunities, Statoil said much of the region's population still lacks access to reliable forms of energy.

Saetr said operating in East African basins comes with responsibilities.

"This is about developing a sound, sustainable and profitable business that gives the government revenues necessary for economic growth and development," he said. "It is about contributing to local capacity building, and about contributing to openness and transparency."

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