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Last Stops on the East Africa Oil & Gas Frontier: Eritrea, Ethiopia

Eritrea is most likely sitting on massive oil and gas reserves, but the government doesn’t seem to be too interested in exploiting them—for now. At the same time, neighboring Ethiopia is about to be put to the test in what explorers are hoping will be a first massive find in its first well in the Kenya-Ethiopia Frontier Basin. Eritrea remains enigmatic despite its potential, but in Ethiopia, there’s no mystery—it’s open for business.

ERITREA: An Enigmatic Exploration Venue

Eritrea’s natural resources—especially oil and gas—remain virtually untapped largely as a result of the 30-year war for independence with Ethiopia. While there is plenty of evidence that Eritrea holds massive oil and gas reserves, the country’s leader has kept quiet about it until recently. 

Eritrea is at the southern end of the Red Sea and this is one of the few unexplored places left in the world. It has the geological features of a major hydrocarbon bonanza. While most of the potential is offshore, onshore also has potential, though minerals like gold, copper and zinc are bigger prizes than oil and gas. 

The Eritrean Red Sea Basin is about 125,000 square kilometers and offers attractive potential in the pre-rift (Mesozoic), syn-rift (Miocene), and post-rift (Late Miocene to early Quaternary) sedimentary units.

Exploration has been going on—piecemeal—since 1921, but only 11 wells have ever…

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