Scene at the Hilala
gas fields in Ethiopia
 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 04 August 2011 – Ethiopia “’ which has been experiencing a surge in requests for exploration rights, hopes to start producing gas from the huge and under-developed reserves it has in its Somali Region in six years’ time.

Reuters reports that 11 companies have been granted licences to develop 31 blocks out of 41 throughout the Horn of Africa country. The Ethiopian government believes its Ogaden basin in the south-eastern province may contain gas reserves of 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas, as well as major oil deposits.

Chinese firm PetroTrans signed a deal in July for concessions to Ethiopia’s Calub and Hilala gas fields. The company will spend US$4 billion to develop the reserve, according to the ministry of mines.

“Our effort is to develop the discovered resources as quickly as possible,” Ketsela Tadesse, head of licensing at the Ministry of Mines, told Reuters in an interview. “In five or six years time there may be a chance to produce gas,” he said.

Ketsela confirmed that several firms had filed requests to explore oil and gas in the country’s Ogaden, Abay, Mekelle, Metemma, Gambela and the Southern Rift sedimentary basins.

Licences have been awarded for 31 out of more than 40 recognised blocks, of which 18 are in the Somali Region, he added. “All these regions are under-explored, but companies are now interested to work with us,” Ketsela said.

Tullow Oil, Epsilon Energy Limited and Pexco Exploration are among the foreign firms that have been granted licences in the last three years, he continued.