Malawi, Tanzania talks over oil exploration deadlocked

Chiume making the announcing in Lilongwe
Tanzania and Malawi, in talks for the last five days, have failed to agree on the disputed waters of Lake Malawi

The talks held in the northern Malawian city of Mzuzu failed to resolve the dispute and suggestion were made that matter be taken to the International Court of Justice, Malawi’s foreign minister Ephraim Chiume said over the weekend.

“At first there was a recommendation that since we are not able to meet halfway, then the route would be to go to the International Court of Justice…,” Chiume said.

“But there was a feeling that maybe we have not exhausted all options of diplomacy …Malawi accepted to consider mediation as a way of resolving the dispute and proposed to consider that at our next meeting next month in Tanzania,” he said.

Last October, Malawi had awarded oil exploration licences to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in Lake Malawi, which is also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

This is what reignited the terretorial dispute, which has not been resolved in the last 50 years. Malawi claims that the whole lake belongs to the country according to colonial boundaries and Tanzania insists that half of the lake is theirs.

Tanzania last month asked Malawi to stop oil and gas exploration activities in Lake Malawi until a border dispute between the two countries involving the lake is resolved.

Lilongwe awarded British firm- Surestream Petroleum- licences for blocks 2 and 3 in the disputed lake, with a combined area of 20,000 square kilometres.

Tanzanian officials say the 50-year-old territorial dispute between the two countries could escalate if significant oil and gas discoveries are made in the lake.