White Nile Ltd has signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with the government of Ethiopia for a 29,000 square kilometer block in the Southern Rift Basin in southwestern Ethiopia. Under the terms of the PSA, White Nile has received sole rights for the exploration, development and production of petroleum in the contract area in return for satisfying various development commitments.
The PSA follows a two year Joint Study Agreement (JSA) with the Ethiopian government's Petroleum Operations Department of the Ministry of Mines over the prospective East African rift system in the southwest region of the country. Geophysical and geological work, primarily in the Omo River area to the north of Lake Turkana, has confirmed the presence of deep potential hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basins within the JSA area. The prognosis by White Nile and its advisors is that the contract area is sited at an intersection between a southeast extension of the petroliferous Cretaceous and early Tertiary basins of southern Sudan, in particular the Muglad rift system and the younger East African rift system, which is proving petroliferous in Uganda as underlined by Tullow Oil Plc's recent progress.
Under the PSA, the Government of Ethiopia has granted the sole right to White Nile to explore, develop and produce petroleum in the contract area. There is an initial exploration period of four years from the date of execution, and a development period and production period of 25 years from the date of adoption of the development plan. During the initial exploration period, White Nile is required to make a minimum expenditure of $6 million for seismic operations and a minimum expenditure of $8 million for drilling operations. White Nile plans to begin seismic operations in Q4 2008, prior to which it will conduct extensive geological field work and preparation for the geophysical program.
"Following the highly successful JSA with the Petroleum Operations Department of the Ministry of Mines, I am very excited that this PSA has been signed to develop the Southern Rift Basin area," White Nile Chairman Phil Edmonds said. "We have been encouraged by early work, especially with the identification of deep basins, potentially containing sedimentary sections similar to that of the petroliferous Muglad and Melut Basins of southern Sudan and also those in Uganda.
"The agreement in Ethiopia is part of White Nile's strategy of building a regional oil company, which I believe we have the ability to achieve. The geology seems to connect Uganda, Ethiopia and southern Sudan so our land positions are in ideal locations to take advantage of this situation."
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