In an exclusive interview with the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) here Wednesday, she said large international oil companies were engaged in strengthened petroleum exploration activities across the nation.
Seven large international companies were exploring for oil in Ogaden, Abay basin, Gambella and Omo basin areas, the minister said, adding that one of them, Tullow Oil plc, had already recorded hydrocarbon indications along the Omo basin.
The company has the technical capabilities and has carried out successful activities in petroleum exploration in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, the minister noted.
Similarly, Southwest Petroleum company, Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd. as well as Africa Oil New Age are undertaking preparations to drill wells in Degehabur, Abay basin, Woreilu and Erkuran areas respectively.
Tullow said it had found hydrocarbon indications in South Omo Zone. The company's Corporate Affairs Senior Adviser, Sisay Zerihun, told ENA that a well named Sabisa-1 had been drilled to a total depth of 1,810 metres in South Omo Zone of South Ethiopia Peoples' State.
Sisay said hydrocarbon indications in sands beneath a thick claystone top seal had been recorded whilst drilling but hole instability issues required the drilling of a sidetrack to comprehensively log and sample these zones of interest.
The sidetrack recently commenced and a result is expected in late May. Tullow Oil Director Angus McCoss also said that the Sabisa-1 well had proved to be technically challenging, as was often the case in frontier basins, and the well now required a sidetrack to redrill, log and sample the objective section.
"Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the hydrocarbon indications, which provide emerging evidence for a working petroleum system in the previously undrilled South Omo Basin," he said.