An Ethiopian spokesman for the mines and energy ministry, Mikahil Mengesha, referred requests for comment to an official at the institution’s Petroleum Licensing & Administration Directorate, calls to whom didn’t connect. Tedla Minda, a senior accountant at GCL-Poly’s Ethiopian branch, said he would forward emailed questions to the general manager.
Berbera in Somaliland is already the site of a United Arab Emirates military facility, as well as a port being built by DP World Ltd., which the Dubai state-controlled harbor operator says will help boost trade flows to the U.A.E.
Somaliland, which is bigger than the U.S. state of Florida, is also planning its own oil production. Genel Energy Plc, an oil company founded by Nathaniel Rothschild and ex-BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, is preparing to drill as many as three wells in the territory’s east, where it has production-sharing agreements, Jama said.
Genel will start drilling at one well in the fourth-quarter of 2019, near Burao in the Togdheer region, according to Jama and Genel’s communications head, Andrew Benbow. “There is oil for sure, but they have to come to know if this is viable for commercial business,” Jama said.
RAK Gas LLC of the U.A.E., which has production-sharing agreements for two blocks south and east of Berbera, is in talks with Genel over co-drilling arrangements, according to Jama. The company didn’t respond to two emailed requests for comment sent to an address on its website.
Three Chinese companies will explore with local partners for jade in southeast Berbera, between the Genel and RAK gas blocks and near the U.A.E. base, according to Jama.
He said unidentified Canadian, Chinese, Norwegian and British companies are interested in exploring three offshore blocks on the approach to the Bab el-Mandeb, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden. Chinese and British companies are also in talks over two further onshore blocks at Somaliland’s border with Ethiopia.