Only one of the consultants, which is bidding jointly with an international one, is a local firm
Half a dozen companies bid to consult and design the nation's largest depot located on the outskirts of Addis Abeba, Dukem, for a projected cost of 2.3 billion Br.
The bid was floated by the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise (EPSE) last Wednesday, to hire an engineering and project management consultant for the Depot that will have the capacity to reserve 240 million litres of petroleum.
The consultant will prepare the final design of the project, assist in the selection of contractors and supervise the overall project.
ILF Consulting Engineers, from Germany, India-based SAGA Global Consultants and the Chinese Longway Engineering Company submitted their technical and financial offers. SMEC International, an Australian firm, and France's EKIUM, represented by Metaferia Consultant Engineers, are also among the six companies in the running to bag the tender after 34 others bought the bidding documents but did not make it to the opening.
The only local company is Aspier Aecom Consulting Architects & Engineering, which jointly bid with Guangdong Qiyuan Building Design Institute of China.
"We will do our best to complete the evaluation quickly" Higamlak Haile, deputy CEO of Petroleum Storage & Engineering at the Enterprise, told the bidders, "but it depends on the volume of the documents."
The project is already behind schedule, making it mandatory for the Enterprise to complete the bidding process promptly and commence the project, according to Higamlak.
Currently, the total petroleum reserve of the country is 367 million litres stored in 13 depots across the country. The new depot at Dukem will have an automated control system and can store jet fuel. Aside from boosting its existing reserves, it is expected to extend the reserve duration to 65 days from the current 36.
"It can be a significant centre for imported petroleum and a distribution hub for other regions", said Higamlak on choosing Dukem for the project, where the petroleum can be transported through a railway line.
The Depot will lie on 10ha and is one of the Enterprise's four depots planned to be constructed across the country, three of which are under survey. Its construction in Dukem is likewise welcomed by oil retailers such as Tadesse Tilahun, CEO of National Oil Company (NOC), who believes that it will minimise transport costs for its strategic location.
An expert with more than a couple of decades experience in the oil industry has a different take on it.
"Since we are highly dependent on Djibouti, it will be better if the depots are built close to Ethiopia's borders, in case of emergency in Djibouti," he suggests.
The Enterprise, established as the Ethiopian Petroleum Refinery Share Association almost half a century ago with a capital of 48 million Br, has 566 employees at its main office and its 13 branches, some of which located in Djibouti and Sudan, had recently launched another depot.
The new depot is found 230Km from Addis Abeba in Awash Sebat Kilo and consumed 174 million Br for construction.
About 23 retailers, 17 of which are local, distribute the petroleum from the depots. The nation's oil demand increases by 10pc annually reaching over 3.5 million tonnes and costs the country more than two million dollars every year.
The tender committee of the Enterprise, chaired by Higamlak, has confirmed that all the bidders have passed the preliminary stage of technical evaluation.