Afar Revamps Oil Exploration Firms. Russian Company Signed Agreement to Prospect for Oil

Addis Ababa October 17, 2015. Public Diplomacy and Regional Security Initiatives New. By Kaleyesus Bekele GPB Global Resources, a Russian oil and gas company, has embarked on oil exploration project in the Afar Regional State. On July 17, 2014 the then Ministry of Mines, current Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, and GPB Global Resources signed petroleum production sharing agreement that enables the company to prospect for oil in the Gewane-El Wiha block, in the Afar Regional State. The exploration area is located in the Afar region in north-eastern part of the country covering 42,000sqkm of land.

Immediately, after securing the exploration license GPB Global Resources hired a US company, Bell Geospace, that undertook airborne Full Tensor Gradiometry (FTG) and magnetic surveys in the Gewane-El Wiha Block early this year. 

Recently, GPB Global Resources hired another company, BGP Geo Services, a Chinese company that specialized on seismic surveys. An official at GPB Global resources told The Reporter that BGP Geo Services has started collecting seismic data from the concession. FTG and magnetic surveys enable companies to design seismic surveys and exploration well drilling. Seismic survey enables exploration company to learn the geological formation of the sedimentary basin and select drilling sites.

BGP has a good reputation in Ethiopia undertaking seismic survey for Tullow Oil in the South Omo basin. The Chinese company has also successfully undertaken seismic surveys in Kenya and Uganda.

GPB Global Resources is an international group of companies engaged in petroleum and mineral resources exploration projects in various parts of the country including Africa, South America and the Middle East. In Africa the company is active in Eritrea, Mali, Ivory Cost, Niger and Mali.

Officials of the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, are happy with GPB’s swift move to laun
ch the oil exploration project. “They started the oil exploration project according to schedule,” a senior official at the ministry told The Reporter. “We are optimistic that GPB will fulfill all its commitments,” the official said.

The company committed itself to undertake seismic survey and drill at least two exploration wells in the initial exploration period.  According to the agreement, the company may invest up to 60 million dollars on the exploration project. GPB Global Resources is an affiliate of Gazprom, a Russian gas giant.

Russians are not new to Ethiopian oil and gas exploration industry. In the 1980s and early 1990s, former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) company, Soviet Petroleum Exploration Expedition (SPEE) was engaged in oil and gas exploration projects in the Ogaden basin. SPEE collected massive seismic data and drilled dozens of exploration wells in the Ogaden.

The declining price of crude oil in the international oil market has an adverse effect on the global oil exploration industry. Global oil companies are slashing exploration budgets and shutting down exploration projects. There are massive lay offs around the globe. However, an official at the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas told The Reporter that the soaring price of oil did not affect the on going exploration projects in Ethiopia. “We are lucky that the companies did not terminate the projects,” the official said.

Currently, Poly-GCL, Tullow Oil, Africa Oil, New Age, South West Energy, Delonex  Energy and GPB Global Resources are some of the companies engaged in oil and gas exploration projects in Ethiopia. reporterethiopia

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