Dark substance that gushed out of the soil in Lilmbe not crude oil but disposed diesel

By Duncan Mlanjira

Secretary for Mining Ministry, Dr. Joseph Mkandawire has reported that from the field investigations and sample analytical results on the alleged oil occurrence in Limbe this week reveals that the substance was a refined petroleum product, specifically, diesel and not crude petroleum substance as members of the public believed it was.

Some people posted on social media a video of some liquid that was gushing out of the ground in Limbe and they thought it was crude petroleum.

After receiving a tip-off from the general public, Mkandawire said the Ministry of Mining, through its Departments of Geological Survey and Mines, sent a technical team of experts to the alleged site in Limbe, and conducted detailed geological investigations and collect samples for laboratory analyses to establish the truth on the alleged natural petroleum phenomenon.

People touching the substance with
bare hands

The area of the alleged oil occurrence lies approximately 90m to the west of Limbe River and about 170m to the east of Limbe Flea Market.

In the statement, Mkandawire says in terms of land use, the area is reported to have been previously used for agricultural purposes and recently, Blantyre City Council reportedly relocated vendors to the area for vending purposes.

Land preparation for construction of the vending structures unearthed the alleged oil occurrence.

On the field investigations and results, Mkandawire said the area is underlain by basement metamorphic rocks assigned to charnockitic granulites which are overlain by younger unconsolidated sediments.

When ignited, it caught fire

“The unconsolidated sediments were observed on site. To understand the sediments, pitting and augering was done. Water and soil samples were collected and analysed by the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

“The pit profile and physiography indicated a gentle slope towards Limbe river; two soil horizons one rich in humus (top soil layer) and the other high in iron content (sub-soil layer).

“Oil contamination was more visible on the top soil layer and diminishing with depth. If oil had a natural source and pathway, the contamination would be increasing with depth.”

The statement says the results from the standard sample analytical tests (distillation, density, flash point, pour point, grease and oil; conducted in accordance with the following Standard Test Methods respectively: ASTM D3921, ASTM D93, ASTM D7346, ASTM D86 and ASTM D3921) from Malawi Bureau of Standards clearly indicated that the sample fluid collected from the hole at the alleged site at Limbe in Blantyre was processed diesel and not natural crude oil as alleged in the video circulating in the social media.

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“Field investigations and sample analytical results on the alleged oil occurrence in Limbe reveals that the substance was a refined petroleum product, specifically, diesel.

“This provides sufficient evidence that some form of anthropogenic disposal of diesel took place in the area. As to when and who did this is beyond this analysis.

“Members of the general public are therefore advised to desist from using an analysed spillage to avoid accidents,” said the statement.

Core mandate of the Ministry of Mining is to promote the sustainable exploration, development and exploitation of mineral and petroleum resources in the Mineral and Upstream Petroleum Sector.

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