Ethiopia’s hydro carbon potential highlighted at the Doha Economic Forum

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Ethiopia’s hydro carbon potential has been highlighted at the Doha Economic Forum held this week.

Tewodros Ashenafi, chairman and CEO of South West Holdings, who participated at the Doha Economic Forum explained about Ethiopia massive oil and gas potential. Tewodros who was a panelist in the Doha Economic Forum remarked, “Ethiopia has 350,000 Sq.KM of basin. It is gigantic. Gas was found in 1972 and it has not been developed. Now we have a new minister and new team that are pushing for this development to take place,” Tewodros told the audience.

According to Tewodros, globally opportunities are pointing to Subsaharan Africa oil and gas field. “Since 2012 exploration has disappeared. Essentially you see a lot of capital looking back in this area. We see good opportunity for the continent,” he said.

Tewodros believes that the Asians are the right partners to develop Ethiopia’s hydro carbon resources.        

“The natural partners would be the Asians. The Asians are looking at their energy security. But we also see some western companies also showing at a bit of more interest than in the past” he said. “The Chinese and Koreans would be the right geographic description looking at Ethiopia to developing this asset along with us,” he added.  

Tewodros argued that the narrative that African countries should not develop their hydrocarbon potential is not correct. With regards to Chinese investment in Africa Tewodros said that Chinese investment in Africa is positive. “There could be some bad actors but in general Chinese investment in Africa is positive and that is a reality.”  

Tewodros touched up on Ethiopia’s renewable energy resources. He pointed out that Ethiopia has renewable resources such as hydro power, solar and wind energy. “Ethiopia is very unique in 1950 Ethiopia went to help South Korea. At that time the Koreans were poorer than Ethiopia on capital basis. We were helping the Koreans and fast forward the Koreans without resources except human capital are now the tenth largest economy in the world.”

He added, “In Ethiopia we have Abay river (Nile River), agriculture and we have oil and gas, we have gold, platinum and Uranium you name it and we should be highly developed economy. We will be going to that direction. We have very fortunate to have hydro, wind, solar and oil and gas potential.”

Asked about security concerns Tewodros said that Ethiopia is 5000 years old.  “We are located in a very difficult neighborhood. We never had five year without conflict. We always had conflict and it is difficult to develop when you have conflict,” he concluded.

South West Energy, one of the subsidiaries of South West Holdings, has historically had one of the top ten largest concessions in East Africa with six billion barrels of oil potential in the Ogadan basin, and is working on renewal.. The Ogaden basin which covers 350,000 sq. km of land has a proven gas reserve of eight trillion cubic feet. Some oil reserves have also been discovered in the arid region in South Eastern part of Ethiopia.      

 The second annual Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg, convened global business leaders and heads of state to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, through the lens of the Middle East. Strategically located in Doha, the Forum draws on Qatar’s ability to link Asia with Africa and beyond, as well as its position as a key global diplomatic hub, a leader in LNG energy technologies, and the home to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Qatar Economic Forum is held in Ritz Carton Hotel in Doha from June 20-22,2022.  

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