Oil and Natural Gas in Ethiopia

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"Ethiopia: White Nile to Ink Oil Exploration Deal"

Ethiopia's current proven hydrocarbon reserves are minimal, but the potential to increase reserves to commercial viability is seen as promising. The country's geology is similar to that of its oil-producing neighbors to the east (on the Arabian peninsula) and the west (Sudan). In April 2001, the Ministry of Mines and Energy reported that hydrocarbon seeps had been discovered in several regions. The government plans to conduct feasibility studies to establish the extent and viability of the deposits.
Hydrocarbon exploration in Ethiopia's Ogaden Basin began over 80 years ago (Standard Oil in 1920). The Ethiopian government formed the Calub Gas Share Company (CGSC) to develop the fields. In 1994, the World Bank approved a $74 million loan to develop the Ogaden Basin fields. The Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) put the CGSC up for privatization in 1998, but the EPA, citing weak bids, withdrew the tender. In December 1999, Houston-based Sicor Inc announced that it had signed a $1.4 billion joint-venture deal to develop the Calub natural gas project. Under the terms of the agreement, Gasoil Ethiopia Project (GEP), the joint-venture firm, will acquire 95 percent of the CGSC under the Ethiopian government's privatization law. Currently, 5 percent of the CGSC is held by local private investors. The Ethiopian government will hold a 20 percent interest in GEP with Sicor holding the remaining share. In December 2002, the Russian state-owned companies Methanol and Stroytransgas were negotiating with the Government to buy 50% of CGSC.
GEP plans to construct a 375-mile, 24-inch pipeline to transmit natural gas to the town of Awash, which is approximately 75 miles east of the capital Addis Ababa. At Awash, plans call for construction of a cryogenic liquids plant and two gas-to-liquids process systems with capacity to process 200 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) of natural gas. The end products would be synthetic fuels and petrochemical feedstocks plus steam to generate electricity and help produce 20,000 bbl/d of potable water. A planned refinery would produce products including diesel, gasoline, kerosene and jet fuels. The gas-to-liquids system would also produce some 500 tons of ammonia per day as feedstock for a urea plant to be constructed. Construction of the pipeline had originally been planned for 2002; however, gas development in Ogaden has not yet begun.

In June 2003, the Ethiopian government signed an oil exploration deal with Petronas for 5,800 square mile tract in Gambela, in the far western part of the country. The region is closely related to the Sudan oil fields. Petronas has committed to investing in regional infrastructure, employing local staff, improving health services, and developing the skills of the ministry of Mines. Petronas is also interested in natural gas exploration in Ogaden, but no official plans have yet been made.

  • Oil proved reserves: 214,000 bbl (1 January 2002)
  • Natural gas proved reserves: 24.92 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)

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