By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
March 5, 2013 (ADDIS ABAB) – The Ethiopian government and Tullow Oil Plc, has dismissed media reports that the UK company has discovered oil along Ethiopia’s western South Omo block.
The London-based company, which found crude oil in Kenya last year, is searching for a possible petroleum basin in Ethiopia’s South Omo valley as extension of the oil resources from neighbouring Kenya.
Tullow, which is executing the exploration work along with the Africa Oil Corporation and Marathon Oil Corp. began drilling its first well (Sabisa1) last January and intends to drill two more this year.
The wells are drilled up to 2,600 meters deep and will cost the company around 50 million dollars for each exploration well.
Tullow has so far drilled about 1,500 meters deep. No oil has been found but the company remains very optimistic that it will eventually gain a positive outcome.
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.
However, the spokesperson for Ethiopia’s ministry of mines, Bacha Fuji, on Tuesday told Sudan Tribune that the reports on the websites were baseless.
He said that there had been no oil findings but added that drilling work was progressing well.
The ministry said it was wrong and irresponsible for the media to come to its own conclusions, while the project is only in the early stage of exploration.
The reports are based on “unfounded suspicions” reached by the media as Tullow has accomplished successful oil exploration activities in Ghana, Uganda and lately in Kenya, the ministry said.
In a statement the company sent to the local newspaper, The Reporter, Tullow said the report is misleading.
“Tullow Ethiopia wishes to clarify its position with regard to oil exploration in South Omo zone of the Southern Nation Nationality and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR.) This follows a confusing and poorly written report on one website in the USA which suggested in its headline that Tullow had discovered oil in Ethiopia”.
The company said that first results from the well will be announced within the next two months.
The Kenya-Ethiopia Tertiary Rift, which stretches from southern Ethiopia to southwestern Kenya, is believed to have as much as 23 billion barrels of oil and gas resources.