The imports which should help reduce the massive cost of oil imports to the country are expected to start during January.
Some 50% of Ethiopia’s export earnings are spent on serving the nation’s demands from fuel. The Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise is the only organisation that supplies oil in Ethiopia, storing the oil in Djibouti.
General manager Yigzaw Mekonnen says the country must to look at diversifying from relying on a single port like Djibouti. Ethiopia used to operate its own refinery in Eritrea but both countries have been at loggerheads since their two-year border war which flared up in 1998. Some 85% of Ethiopia’s demand for benzene will be imported from Sudan.
Mekonnen has announced that Ethiopia will begin importing 10,000mt of benzene monthly and 120,000mt annually from its neighbour. A further 3,000mt of diesel fuel each month will be shipped in, the petroleum official said. The diesel fuel import is expected to cover about 20 percent of the country’s consumption.
Currently, Ethiopia imports around two million tons of oil costing around US$221 a year – mainly from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. It is expected that a total of US$7mn each year can be saved by Ethiopia in shipping the oil through Sudan.
Ethiopia and Sudan signed a co-operation agreement in June last year enabling Addis Ababa to import fuel. Under the terms of the deal, Ethiopia has received 25,000 square metres of land in Sudan for the construction of a fuel depot.
The country is also looking at the development of oil and gas as a means of shifting away from reliance on hydroelectric power. It has been claimed in recent months that the current drought has hit water supplies at the hydroelectric plants and led to current regular power cuts in Addis Ababa.
The potential of hydroelectric power in Ethiopia is enormous. So far the country utilises around 2% of the total.