Addis Ababa - Ethiopia is set to be a natural gas producer by 2018, pumping about 40 billion gallons annually, according to a Chinese company which has invested $5 billion in the project.
Huang Geming, vice president of China Poly Technology, told the state-run Ethiopian News Agency that a pipeline connecting the restive south eastern region of Ogaden to the port of Djibouti to export gas mainly to Europe, was already under construction.
Ethiopia, which depends entirely on imports through Sudan, South Sudan, and Djibouti port for its oil and gas needs, has been trying to exploit its oil and gas potential since 1924. A combination of security factors, political instability, and failure to find commercially viable reserves has hampered its efforts.
Ogaden, the remote region mostly populated by ethnic Somalis, has been the focus of decades of exploration and investment. In May 2012, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared that Ethiopia would pump gas out of the Ogaden in one year’s time. That didn’t happen.
For Ethiopia to safely exploit the gas reserves, the Ogaden, which borders war-torn Somalia, would first have to be pacified.