Stagnant extraction? The politics of time and space in the Tanzanian hydrocarbon sector
In the early 2010s, discoveries of offshore gas reserves in Tanzanian waters generated considerable anticipation both for international oil companies, national politicians, and local populations. The promises of hydrocarbon wealth changed the imagined futures of Tanzania with political suggestions that hydrocarbon extraction could catalyse economic development and was further buoyed with planned infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars. The introduction of the hydrocarbon sector to Tanzania changed perceptions of time and introduced the temporalities of extraction to the country. Since then, these promises and expectations have yet to come into fruition, with the offshore sector has yet to enter the extraction phase, and the infrastructure projects have yet to begin construction. This thesis presents a study of the politics of time in the hydrocarbon sector in Tanzania. It focuses on the tensions generated by legislative changes, policy changes and planned infrastructures to present how different actors’ perceptions of time, specifically around the future and pace of developments in the sector, have shaped frictions between stakeholders. Central to this is multiple and sometimes conflicting temporalities. This thesis argues that the introduction of the hydrocarbon sector has both created and exacerbated frictions in the perceptions of time for a variety of stakeholders at differing spatial levels. At the core of this has been the future, or more specifically, the competing imagined futures that the gas sector would have on Tanzania’s economic development. These frictions have been dependent on a variety of factors, ranging from the geographical, to the material and imagined. Theoretically, this thesis proposes a greater focus, understanding and clarity on the temporalities of extraction to better understand modern extractive phenomena within the social sciences. This is particularly true within multiple African states, whereby there are growing expectations of resource-based development and increased state intervention in the extractives sector.