Ethiopia to Extend Tullow Exploration Permit as Data Studied

Ethiopia will grant Tullow Oil Plc (TLW)
an extension to its exploration license after the company
reported “encouraging” results in its search so far, Mines
Minister Tolesa Shagi said.

“We will definitely grant them because they’ve done so
much and we appreciate whatever they’ve tried to do,” Tolesa
said in a phone interview yesterday from the capital, Addis
Ababa. “We try to assist them as much as possible.”

Tullow, based in London, requested more time to analyze
data from drilling and seismic surveys in southern Ethiopia, the
company said yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions. Two
out of four wells drilled by Tullow and partners Africa Oil
Corp. (AOI)
and Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) in the past two years show they may
contain petroleum deposits, it said.

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“The hydrocarbon shows in the South Omo basin wells are
indicative of a working petroleum system and therefore the
acreage in southern Ethiopia remains prospective,” it said.
“We are currently examining the substantial volume of drilling
and seismic data collected to decide our future exploration
plans.”

The size of the concession in southern Ethiopia is 5.4
million acres (2.2 million hectares) , according to Marathon
Oil’s website
. Tullow is focusing on East Africa’s Tertiary Rift
that extends into Ethiopia. It struck oil on the same formation
across the border in neighboring Kenya in 2012.

Gas Deposits

While no oil or gas is produced by Ethiopia, there are an
estimated 4 trillion cubic feet of natural-gas deposits in its
eastern Somali region, where a unit of China Poly Group Corp. is
working.

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Tullow is moving almost all of its staff out of Ethiopia
after no oil was found in the country, the Addis Ababa-based
Reporter newspaper said Oct. 11, citing Operations Manager Nick
Woodall-Mason. No more work would be done during the remainder
of the exploration license, it said. The companies hope to get a
two-year extension to the license that expires in January.

While staff in Ethiopia will be reduced during a drilling
break, “suggestions that Tullow will leave only a skeleton
staff in Ethiopia for the next two years are incorrect,” the
company said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story:
William Davison in Addis Ababa at
wdavison3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Antony Sguazzin at
asguazzin@bloomberg.net
Paul Richardson, Karl Maier

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