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Canada’s Africa Oil Corp. Agrees to Survey New Ethiopian Block

Africa Oil Corp., a Canadian oil and gas exploration company, said it signed an agreement with the Ethiopian government to survey the Rift Valley Block.

The company will carry out an airborne geophysical survey of the 42,519 square-kilometer (16,417 square-mile) block, it said yesterday in a statement. The area is north of the South Omo Block where Africa Oil has a joint holding with U.K explorer Tullow Oil Plc and Agriterra Ltd.

Africa Oil’s exploration areas in Ethiopia, Somalia’s Puntland region and Kenya “host numerous oil seeps indicating a proven petroleum system,” the company said.

Nine companies are operating 17 licenses to prospect for oil and gas in Ethiopia, Ketsela Tadesse, head of petroleum operations, licensing and administration at the Ethiopian Mines Ministry, said in an interview today in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“This part of the world can generate substantial amounts of oil and gas,” he said. “But there is a need for more data and more active work.”

The ministry hopes to license at least two new operations per year, with a minimum of $500 million invested in prospecting over the next five years, according to Ketsela.

No reserves have been proven apart from about 4.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in concessions operated in the eastern Ogaden region by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Ketsela said.

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