The Ethiopian government and Tullow Oil Plc, have dismissed media reports that the UK company has discovered oil in Ethiopia’s western South Omo area. The US-based website, Energy and Capital, and a number of news outlets last week reported that Tullow had discovered commercial-grade oil in the rift valley of Ethiopia near the border with Kenya.
Other reports said the Kenya-Ethiopia Tertiary Rift, which stretches from southern Ethiopia to south western Kenya, was believed to have as much as 23 billion barrels of oil and gas resources. The ministry said it was wrong and irresponsible for the media to come to its own conclusions while the project was still only in the early stages of exploration.
The reports by the media were made on the basis of speculations for a similar result to the discoveries Tullow had made Ghana, Uganda and lately in Kenya. The spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Mines, Bacha Fuji, said on Tuesday said the reports were baseless and based on “unfounded suspicions”. There had been no oil findings though drilling work was progressing well. The London-based Tullow Oil Plc, which found oil in Kenya last year, is searching for a possible petroleum basin in Ethiopia’s South Omo valley.
It is carrying out exploration work along with the Africa Oil Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation and began drilling its first well (Sabisa1) in January. It intends to drill two more wells this year. The wells will be up to 2,600 meters deep and the company said that it has so far drilled about 1,500 meters at Sabisa 1. No oil has yet been found though the company remains “very optimistic” that it will eventually have a positive outcome.
The company in a statement said the recent media reports were confusing, poorly written and misleading. It said Tullow Oil had not yet discovered any oil in South Omo zone of the Southern Nation Nationality and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, adding that it would announce the first results from the well within the next two months.
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