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Houston business delegation named after Congressman Mickey Leland  to visit Ethiopia

One of the leading US oil firms, Chevron, has shown an interest to engage in oil exploration and development projects in Ethiopia.

Following the launch of Ethiopian Airlines scheduled passenger flight service between Addis Ababa and Houston, Texas, a business delegation led by the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, will be visiting Addis Ababa in March 2020. Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian, launched a thrice weekly flight to Houston on December 16, 2019. Ethiopian Airlines executives and passengers aboard the maiden flight ET546 were received with a warm welcome when the B787 Dreamliner airplane landed at George Bush International Airport.

The following day executives of Ethiopian Airlines led by the CEO of the Aviation Group Tewolde Gebremariam held a high-level meeting with officials of Chevron at Zaza Hotel in Houston. Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, Fitsum Arega, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor and Gezahegn Kebede, Honorary Consul General, attended the meeting.

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Sudan and Ethiopia agreed on Friday to establish a joint oil pipeline, to serve the two countries. This came during a meeting held by Sudanese Minister of Energy and Mining Adel Mohamed Ibrahim, with his Ethiopian counterpart, Seleshi Bekele, in the capital Addis Ababa, as part of an official visit by Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and a number of his ministers to Ethiopia.

According to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), Ibrahim explained that Khartoum and Addis Ababa will invite Juba to “co-establish another branch of the pipeline to extend it to reach the State of South Sudan for the benefit of the people of the region.”“The Ethiopian side is very interested and enthusiastic about this project, and we will start to implement it soon after the completion of partnership procedures,” Ibrahim added. He continued “the Ethiopian side also presented a second project, a partnership in the Sudanese Nile Petroleum Co. Ltd., and Ethiopia will present a written proposal on this partnership.”

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A directive issued by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) requesting foreign oil companies engaged in oil and gas exploration and development projects in Ethiopia to open a foreign currency bank account in Ethiopia has frustrated international oil companies.   

The directive compels the oil companies to have a foreign currency bank account with Ethiopian commercial banks which will be supervised by the NBE. The companies can withdraw cash in local currency for their expenditure for the oil and gas projects.

“All purchase of goods and services will be transacted in line with foreign exchange directive of the National Bank of Ethiopia through the banking system,” NBE said.

Previously, the oil companies used to have offshore accounts and a local currency bank account in Ethiopia. The companies transfer foreign currency to their local accounts that they use to finance their oil and gas exploration projects in Ethiopia. The new directive now requires the oil companies to open and maintain foreign currency accounts in Ethiopia.  

The companies had the right to open and freely maintain foreign bank accounts outside of Ethiopia. However, the new directive stipulates that the companies should open and maintain a foreign currency account in Ethiopia.

All the international oil companies engaged in oil and gas exploration and development projects have furiously protested NBE’s directive. The companies have lodged their complaints to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. “Even after a series of communications with the Ministry and the NBE the problem could not be resolved,” representatives of the oil firms told The Reporter.

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The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum disclosed that the British energy firm New Age (African Global Energy Ltd) has discovered 1.6 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas reserve in the Ogaden basin, Somali Regional State.

State Minister of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Guang Tutlam (MD), told The Reporterthat New AGE has discovered 1.6 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural gas in a locality called Elkuran. “We are now working on the gas commercialization. We are looking at ways how to market the gas,” Guang said.

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