Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:08am GMT * Augusta Energy to supply 540,000 tonnes of oil * Govt hopes bulk oil procurement will lower prices DAR ES SALAAM Nov 30 (Reuters) - Tanzania has awarded a $500 million contract to a Swiss company, Augusta Energy, to supply 540,000 metric tonnes of oil to the country for the first two months of 2012, a senior official said on Wednesday. "The contract awarded to Augusta Energy yesterday marks the introduction in Tanzania of a new bulk procurement system for oil imports," Mansoor Shanif, chairman of state-run oil company, Petroleum Importation Coordinator (PIC), told Reuters. Augusta beat bids from four other Swiss-based companies, including Trafigura and Addax & Oryx Group for the contract. "The oil that will be imported under this contract covers a period of two months (Jan-Feb 2012). Most of the oil will be sold in Tanzania, while some of it will be for transit purposes," he said. Shanif said the state-run oil company would invite fresh bids after the expiry of the two-month contract awarded to the Swiss firm. The bulk oil procurement is aimed at lowering fuel prices, which have been partly to blame for a rising inflation rate in the country. The year-on-year inflation rate in east Africa's second-biggest economy accelerated for the twelfth straight month in October to 17.9 percent from 16.8 percent a month earlier on rising food and fuel prices. Tanzania's energy regulator, EWURA, which imposes fuel cap prices on fuel retailers in the country, said it would introduce a new formula for calculating pump prices after the commencement of the bulk oil procurement. Oil importers are the biggest drivers of demand for U.S dollars, putting pressure on the shilling. The government said it hopes bulk procurement of oil would ease demand on foreign currency and help to stabilise the local currency. Oil imports soared 36.2 percent to $2.6 billion in the year to August 2011, with volumes rising to 3.4 million tonnes from 3.2 million, according to a latest central Bank of Tanzania report.