Local reports said the Ministry of Mines and the Geological Survey Department alongside two privately owned companies — GeoAssociates and Invictus Energy Resources — will assess the area’s hydrocarbon potential.

It is unclear if GeoAssociates and Invictus have been issued with ‘special grants’ or licences to explore the area or are acting as consultants to the government.

Zimbabwe is known to have substantial untapped coalbed methane resources but its conventional oil and gas potential is little understood.

Mobil assessed the valley’s potential in the early 1990s and considered the region’s basins to be gas prone, although no wells were drilled.