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Tanzania: Pipeline Woes for this Gas Giant

Ask Tanzanians what the gas bonanza has done for them. For starters, anyone who owns property in the port city of Dar es Salaam has seen that property value sky rocket; real estate sales are filling pockets beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and those renting to oil and gas personnel are enjoying a new era of self-sufficiency. Surrounded by neighbors who are more difficult to deal with, Tanzania is an investors’ paradise relatively speaking.

That’s why the protests over the construction of a new $1.225 billion pipeline, which began in late January and quickly turned violent, have shaken the foundations. There are now concerns that this crucial pipeline will meet with too many delays, if it is built at all. The planned 532km-long pipeline will pump natural gas from the Mtwara region to the port in Dar es Salaam to produce 2,780 Megawatts of electricity (a major achievement in a country suffering from chronic power problems). It is a joint project between a Chinese company and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).

The flashpoint for this is the Masasi district (Mtwara region), where protests hit the streets on 27 January, and security forces responded with a level of brutality that will only serve to give the protests greater momentum. Four people were killed and 25 others injured in clashes with security forces. Not only was the pipeline damaged, but local shops and houses were destroyed, including some belonging to local political…

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