By Mohammed Awad
ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia energy experts are questioning where the country will get its needed petroleum imports after the government said this past week it was ending oil imports from Sudan.
Ethiopia had imported close to one million metric tons of petroleum worth $1.1 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year, which is 21pc higher than that of last year’s amount. But the government then came out and said it was canceling the deal.
“It is surprising that the government would resort to politics over our energy needs,” said oil consultant Yussif Mohammed Ali. He told Bikyanews.com that “other sources must be found soon or the country could face pitfalls.”
The Ethiopian Petroleum Supplier Enterprise (EPSE), the sole entity tasked with meeting the country’s demand for petroleum, has also imported 126,209 metric tons of coal with $29.5 million.
Ali said coal could provide immediate relief, but the “future environmental concerns will outweigh this in the long run.”
EPSE was established by the Council of Ministers in July 2012 by amalgamating the Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise (EPE) and the National Petroleum Depot Administration (NPDA). EPSE has 13 depots in various parts of the country and two branch offices in two neighboring countries.
“I think this is a positive step on both sides,” an Ethiopian government consultant told Bikyanews.com at the time. “It shows that we as a region are willing to compromise and meet goals without causing unduly harm. Considering the dam project and the anger from Khartoum and Cairo over it, helping give us energy needs is positive.”
But it seems something, not yet reported, has happened to change the situation.
Ethiopia imports up to 85 percent of its annual oil consumption from neighboring Sudan, largely due to its geographic proximity.