Ethiopia might import SA coal via Berbera Port

August 22nd, 2011 | by addis portal |

The Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise is to import coal from South Africa with the aim of securing a sustainable supply of coal as an alternative source of energy for cement factories in Ethiopia.

The move follows the unsuccessful bid by the Ethiopian government to acquire pet coke for cement factories in their production of cement. The Ministry of Industry had initially issued a directive earlier this year for cement factories to start using pet coke by June 7th 2011, in a bid to reduce foreign currency spending on Heavy Fuel Oil. Later, it rescinded its directive and set up a task force to explore the importation of coal to Ethiopia.

The task force, which includes representatives from cement factories, the Ministry of Industry, Ethiopian Shipping Lines, the EPE and the Ethiopian Maritime and Transit Services Enterprise has been looking at possible imports of coal from countries which have geographic proximity and institutions capable of importing coal at cost effective prices.

In order to facilitate the import process, the EPE has been tasked to look for companies that can supply coal, and the EMTSE is tasked with preparing an area for unloading the coal cargo.

Public private partnerships, the private sector and the cement manufacturers’ association, were considered as possible alternative institutions that could import and distribute coal. The EPE, however, was finally selected based on its previous experience in importing liquid petroleum and distributing resource equitably according to an expert at MoI.

Except for the Mugher and East Cement factories, which expect to finalize installation of infrastructure to utilize coal power sources by 2013, all 12 cement factories currently have the infrastructure for using coal as an alternative energy source.

From all the cement factories, the highest amount of coal is consumed by the Messebo and Derba Midroc factories, which have the capacity of producing 2.1 million and 2.3 million tonnes on a yearly basis, consuming 272,000 tonne and 272 tonne of coal respectively. 
So as to ease transport costs, only two cement factories, National and Messebo have been importing coal together for the past few months. They imported 41,000 tonne of coal last week.

There are about six kinds of coal of which Bituminous is used for electric power generation as well as for different industries such as cement.

According to a study conducted by the Geological Survey of Ethiopia, out of the 100 countries which produce coal, the US, Russia and China are the leading countries with proven recoverable coal reserves of 237.2 million tonnes, 157 million tonnes and 114.5 million tonnes, respectively. On the other hand, China, the US, India, Australia and South Africa are the top five producers of the world, while Australia, Indonesia and China are the major exporters.

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