16 December 2005

Ethiopia: Chinese Company to Drill Exploratory Well in Gambella

The Chinese Petroleum Company, Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPAEB), will start drilling the first exploratory well in the Gambella basin, in western Ethiopia.

ZPEB is contracted by Petronas, the Malaysian company, which signed an agreement with the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MoME) to explore and develop oil reserve in the Gambella concession. Abiy Hunegnaw, head of the Petroleum Operations Department with the MoME, told The Reporter that ZPEB will soon import well-drilling rig and other equipment to Ethiopia.

Abiy said the road that will used to transport the machines to the Gambella concession was paved. "We are working on the shipment documents of the machineries," he said.

According to Abiy, the company will commence work on the drilling project next February. "Petronas is discharging its responsibilities properly. The company is implementing the program according to schedule. It is even beyond our expectation," he added. The dry season in Gambella is only four months long and the contractor anticipates to finalize the drilling work on the first exploratiory well within the dry season. The cost of the drilling is estimated at 15 to 16 million dollars.

The Gambella concession is an area covering 19300 sq km near the Sudanese border. The American oil company, Chevron, conducted gravity and magnetic surveys in the Gambella basin in 1983. The Gambella basin is the southern tip of the Melut basin, one of the most prospective areas in the Sudan.

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