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Chevron eyes Ethiopia’s oil exploration potential

Chevron eyes Ethiopia’s oil exploration potential

Houston business delegation named after Congressman Mickey Leland  to visit Ethiopia

One of the leading US oil firms, Chevron, has shown an interest to engage in oil exploration and development projects in Ethiopia.

Following the launch of Ethiopian Airlines scheduled passenger flight service between Addis Ababa and Houston, Texas, a business delegation led by the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, will be visiting Addis Ababa in March 2020. Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian, launched a thrice weekly flight to Houston on December 16, 2019. Ethiopian Airlines executives and passengers aboard the maiden flight ET546 were received with a warm welcome when the B787 Dreamliner airplane landed at George Bush International Airport.

The following day executives of Ethiopian Airlines led by the CEO of the Aviation Group Tewolde Gebremariam held a high-level meeting with officials of Chevron at Zaza Hotel in Houston. Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, Fitsum Arega, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor and Gezahegn Kebede, Honorary Consul General, attended the meeting.

At the business luncheon co-hosted by Chevron and Houston Airport, Gezahegn Kebede told The Reporter that a Houston business delegation led by Mayor Sylvester Turner will be visiting Ethiopia from March 15-25 2020. Gezahegn said that the business mission dedicated to commemorate Congressman Mickey Leland, who lost his life in Ethiopia in a plane crash in 1989, will explore business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Houston, the fourth largest city in the US next to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, is the energy capital of the US. Energy giants including Chevron, Mobil Exxon and Shell have their offices in downtown, Houston.  

Gezahegn said that Chevron and other energy firms will be part of the business delegation that will travel to Addis Ababa in March next year. According to him, Chevron has shown an interest to engage in oil exploration and development projects in Ethiopia.

“First talks were initiated four years ago during former president of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome’s (PhD), visit to Houston. But later it was interrupted due to the global fuel price fall. Now executives of Chevron will be part of the Mickey Leland trade mission coming to Addis Ababa in March,” Gezahegn said. According to Gezahegn, during the visit to Ethiopia executives of Chevron will meet Samuel Hurkato (PhD), the Minister of Mines and Petroleum and other senior officials of the Ministry and deliberate on the oil and gas exploration and development opportunities in Ethiopia.

“Prior to the delegation visit, we are gathering information about the oil and exploration sector in Ethiopia. Director of of the Petroleum Licensing and Operation at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Ketsela Tadesse (PhD) will come to Houston to discuss the matter,” he said.

In addition to Chevron, other energy firms based in Houston will be part of the business delegation. Some textile and garment companies have also shown interest to invest in the industrial parks in Ethiopia. According to Gezahegn, up to 25 companies from Houston will join the trade mission. “We will also expect technology companies to join the trade mission. As of January, we will promote the business delegation’s visit.”

In a speech delivered at the business luncheon Ambassador Raynor said commencement of Ethiopian Airlines flights to Houston creates commercial potential. “It facilitates business travel between Houston, one of America’s vibrant and important economies, and Ethiopia with boundless potential. The new flight will promote commerce, trade and investment between our two countries. It will enable the business community in Houston to seize the new opportunities opening up across Ethiopia. Some of the statistics make Ethiopia compelling as an investment destination,” he said.  

The Ambassador noted that Ethiopia is the fourth largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and the fastest growing economy in the entire Africa. Ambassador Raynor highlighted the ambitious political and economic reforms that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) administration is implementing. “The political reform has already broadened dramatically and enduringly democratic space and political freedom throughout Ethiopia. The ambitious and comprehensive economic reform focuses on creating a free trade economy in Ethiopia. It includes the introduction of capital market,” he said.       

“Now it is the right time for American investors to engage with Ethiopia,” he added. US export to Ethiopia grew by 49 percent last year reaching 1.3 billion US dollars. US imports from Ethiopia also rose dramatically increasing by 52 percent to 444 million dollars.   

In his presentation, Tewolde who highlighted the investment, trade and tourism potential of Ethiopia said that the US and European companies lag behind in investing in Africa.     

In a related news, officials of Chevron and Ethiopian Airlines deliberated on ways that the national carrier can provide air transport services to the oil giant in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines offered to provide passenger and cargo transportation services to Chevron, which has vast oil exploration and development projects in West Africa and Angola. “They will soon sign air transportation service agreement,” Gezahegn told The Reporter.

Tewolde said Ethiopian Airlines will start cargo flight to Houston in addition to the belly hold capacity it offers aboard its passenger flights via Lome, Togo, its second hub in West Africa. Ethiopian has been operating passenger flights to Washington DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and cargo flights to Miami, Florida. However, the Star Alliance member airline has halted the Los Angeles route for commercial reasons. As Houston is the hub of United Airlines, another member of the Star Alliance Group, Ethiopian will bolster its cooperation with United in a bid to offer passengers seamless connections in the US and through its extensive route network in Africa.