Petrotrans Co., a Chinese oil exploration company, may face attack in Ethiopia’s restive Ogaden region if it begins operations in the area, a U.S.-based advocacy group said.
“We urge all foreign oil companies, especially the Chinese oil and gas company PetroTrans, to refrain from undertaking any oil exploration missions in Ogaden,” the Resolve Ogaden Coalition said in an e-mailed statement today.
Ethiopia’s mines ministry signed a deal with PetroTrans for it to explore for deposits and develop proven reserves in the region, the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency said on July 22. Petronas Nasional Bhd sold the assets in October as part of what it said was a “rationalization exercise.”
The Ogaden National Liberation Front has been fighting for self-determination in the ethnic Somali region since 1984. In April 2007, the banned rebel group attacked an exploration site operated by China’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, killing nine Chinese workers and 65 Ethiopians.
“We hope PetroTrans will heed our call and advice before another avoidable catastrophe, like the one in Obole 2007, takes place in Ogaden due to their intransigence which puts profits before human rights,” the coalition said today.
Ethiopian Communications Minister Bereket Simon and ONLF spokesman Abdirahman Mahdi didn’t answer their mobiles phones when called by Bloomberg today for comment. A call to PetroTrans’s head office in Hong Kong outside normal business hours wasn’t answered.