Two top officials from Tanzania’s state owned oil and gas agency were arrested Monday for allegedly failing to release gas contracts the government signed with investors that were requested by the parliament.
Police were ordered to arrest acting director general of Tanzania Petroleum Development (TPDC) James Andelile and that agency’s board chairman Michael Mwanda on charges that the two men have refused to comply with record release requests.
The agency was ordered to release 26 oil and gas contracts to the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts by November 3.
TPDC has said confidentially clauses bar it from disclosing the details of the agreements.
“It is confirmed. They were arrested today and they will be charged in the court according to the law,” Comittee chairman Zitto Kabwe told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The two men face a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison.
An agency spokesman said the agency could not release the contracts until it had time to consult with the investors.
The parliamentary committee told the TPDC last week that is has until next Monday to release the requested records and submit an audited report for the 2013 fiscal year, Reuters said.
Tensions between Tanzanian officials and politicians have been coming to a head as the country considers how best to exploit newly discovered offshore gas deposits.
The Tanzanian government has kept the terms of production sharing agreements secret it has signed with both foreign and local investors secret.
The lack of transparency has some members of parliament concerned that the country’s inexperience in the gas sector have allowed investors to secure overly generous contract terms.
Current estimates place Tanzania’s gas reserves at about 50 trillion cubic feet although government officials hope those reserves will expand to about 200 trillion cubic feet within the next couple of years.
The country does not produce crude oil.
Norway’s Statoil, Shell and Brazil’s Petrobras have all signed production sharing agreements with the Tanzanian government.
The country’s government has partnered with Statoil, ExxonMobil, UK-based BG Group and UK-based Ophir Energy to develop a joint LNG plant.