19 October 2012 – A series of hydrocarbon discoveries across Eastern Africa has established the region as one of the key emerging areas for fossil fuel development in the world. Research from GlobalData says that 64 oil and gas discoveries have been made in the continent’s emerging markets over the last five years, the majority of which were made in the east African nations of Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania.

The number of finds in the area has either increased or matched the previous figure each year during 2007 to 2012, with 13 discoveries alone in 2012 up until August. Such an impressive rate of discovery is in turn drawing greater upstream investment from oil and gas firms looking to capitalise from east Africa’s massive hydrocarbon potential.

At present, Tullow Oil and Total are the leading companies in exploration and production in the emerging markets of Africa. UK based Tullow Oil is estimated to have the largest number of exploration blocks in Africa, with 20. The company plans to make Uganda one of the top 50 oil producing countries in the world by investing US$10 billion for the development of assets there and has already made 15 oil discoveries.

Total on the other hand, is the continent’s hydrocarbon leader in terms of net production and operates in nations including Kenya, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo – the latter producing 123 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011 alone.

However, despite the realisation of Africa’s growing oil and gas wealth, political and economic uncertainties continue to mar the development of the continent’s huge oil and gas wealth progress. Shifting price policies, taxation changes and threats of vandalism by rebel groups are among the major concerns for international oil companies and have even seen Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) farm out exploration blocks in Ethiopia to a local company.