All Africa 25 October 2014
By Kaleyesus Bekele
The Russian company that recently signed an agreement with the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines, GPB Global Resources, is to embark on oil exploration project in the Afar Regional State.
GPB has put up an international tender inviting companies for the provision of airborne geophysical surveys in its concession. A US company, Bell Geospace, won the contract for the provision of airborne Full Tensor Gradiometry (FTG) and magnetic surveys in the Gewane-El Wiha Block. FTG and magnetic surveys enable companies to design seismic surveys and exploration well drillings.
In a statement issued on Thursday, John Macfarlane, general manager of Bell Geospace, noted that the company’s unique and proprietary technical process, which allows, among other things, an interim map to be available to GPB Ethiopia Resources BV within 24 hours after each interlace, has given the company an added advantage.
“By supplying our client with an interim map of the region flown, we give them the flexibility to identify and prioritize the areas of interest,” said Macfarlane. “In addition, we intend to use our range of full tensor processes, which are exclusive to Bell Geospace, to maintain line spacing whilst benefiting from enhanced resolution, and contact lineament processing, also a proprietary technique, which facilitates mapping of intra-sedimentary structures not possible with conventional techniques”.
The survey will begin in January 2015, and Bell Geospace expects that the complete dataset will be available to GPB Ethiopia Resources BV within 28 days of acquisition.
Headquartered in Houston Texas, Bell Geospace, undertakes geophysical surveys for petroleum and mining companies in different parts of the Globe. Its long list of customers includes ExxonMobil, Petronas and Lundin Petroleum. Bell Geospace was established in 1973 with offices in Houston and Aberdeen, Scotland.
Based on the new Ethiopian petroleum law, the Ethiopian government will take 70 percent of the production while the company will have a 30 percent share if the exploration effort bears fruit.
GPB Global Resources is an international group of companies engaged in petroleum and mineral resources exploration projects in various parts of the country, including Africa, South America and the Middle East. In Africa the company is active in Eritrea, Mali, Ivory Cost, Niger and Mali.
Officials of the Ministry of Mines are happy with GPB’s swift move to launch the oil exploration project. “They are going to start the oil exploration project according to schedule,” a senior official at the ministry told The Reporter. “Some companies take several months to open an office, leave alone awarding a contract. We are optimistic that GPB will fullfill all its commitments,” the official said.
The company committed itself to undertake seismic survey and drill at least two exploration wells in the initial exploration period. GPB Global Neftegaz Services BV, an affiliate of GPB Global Resources, originally established to advise on the development of Gazprom’s overseas up stream oil and gas portfolio.
Russians are not new to the Ethiopian oil exploration sector. In the socialist era Soviet Petroleum Exploration Expedition (SPEE) was prospecting for oil and gas in the Ogaden basin in the 1980s. Russians were involved in the mining sector too. It was Russian Geological Survey that discovered the Kenticha tantalum deposit in Borena Zone in the Oromia Regional State. They also discovered the Legedembi primary gold reserve, which MIDROC Gold is currently mining.