Monday, August 05, 2013

No oil reserves have been detected, says Musukwa
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 19 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

MINES deputy minister Richard Musukwa says no oil reserves have been detected in any district in the country. And health deputy minister Patrick Chikusu says government is formulating regulation to ensure that traditional medicines complement conventional ones.

Responding to PF Kaputa member of parliament Maxas Ng'onga who asked for an update on oil exploration, Musukwa responded that the government demarcated blocks and issued licences to prospective investors.

"At the moment there are no oil reserves in the country, there are no discoveries yet and drilling of oil will only commence when oil reserves of economic value are discovered," he said.

But Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu asked why the government excited the nation by claiming that samples taken to Germany were positive for oil.

Musukwa responded that there was a difference between occurrence of deposits and actual discovery of oil reserves.

"Government through Geological Survey Department between 2007 and 2010 carried out microbial prospecting technique to assess the potential of oil and gas in the country. The principle behind microbial prospecting for oil and gas technique is that oil and gas deposits emit a stream of hydrocarbon gases to the surface of the earth," Musukwa said.

"Microscopic bacteria known as hydrocarbon oxidising bacteria feed on the hydrocarbon gases that seep to the earth's surface from a petroleum basin. Detection of the bacteria is indicative of the presence of hydrocarbon bearing structures, and this technique has delineated areas with the potential to host oil or gas and it is this development that prompted government to demarcate areas into blocks for interested companies to bid for prospecting licences."

And Dr Chikusu said the process to amend the food and poisons Act and presentation of the Traditional Healers Bill to Parliament have reached advanced stages.

"It is government's wish to see traditional medicines complement conventional medicines but we need legal framework to regulate these practices where some people are giving out medicines anyhow," he said.

Lukulu West UPND member of parliament Misheck Mutelo asked if traditional healers had papers to practice divinity and witch finding because they were causing problems in villages.

Health minister Joseph Kasonde said the two issues were different but the government would include everything in the proposed regulation.

"Divinity has to do with spiritual while healing is something else but our regulations shall define requirements for people intending to practice," he said.

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