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Ministry Putting up 200m Br Data Repository

Country storing electronic data abroad for large sums in foreign currency


The Ministry of Mines (MoM) is constructing a 200 million Br digital national data repository (NDR) on a 18,000sqm plot to store data collected by different international oil companies during exploration.

The NDR is located on the compound of the ministry’s branch on Asmara Street.

Since the cost of exploration for petroleum is expensive for the government, oil companies conduct exploration on different sedimentary basins using risk capital. The government has signed protocol agreements with the companies and the data is collected from the companies after their exploration.

The existing data, which was collected by different oil companies since 1934, is estimated to be worth 600 million dollars. It comprises magnetic tapes, rock samples, systemic data, and well logs taken from deep holes.

A tender for the construction of the building was floated twice; the second one earlier  this year was awarded to Tekleberhan Ambaye Construction Plc for around 90 million Br, according to Mekonnen Negusie, senior economist of petroleum licensing at MoM. 

The construction must be finalised within seven months, according to the contract signed in March 2011, and construction has started.

A total of three international consultants participated in drawing up the architectural, structural, electrical, and mechanical designs of the building last year. These are Petroleum India International, Fugro Data Solutions and its local contractor Afri Consulting Architects & Engineers and RPS Energy Ltd.

Following the financial and technical evaluations, the contract was awarded to Fugro Data Solutions, a United Kingdom (UK) based company that was founded in the Netherlands in 1962.

To date, the data has been stored haphazardly in offices with moderate air conditioning, according to Mekonnen. The present location where the database is stored does not have gas suppression to enable petroleum samples to be stored in the same building, he claimed.

Since the country does not have a standardised data management system, electronic system data is stored in foreign countries, which costs the country large sums in foreign currency.

The NDR is expected to preserve the data by managing the identity, integrity, and quality of the archives. It would also secure data as the system has scanning facilities which would helps to retrieve the data if the building was damaged.

“Organised data and information of high quality attract investors in the sector as they would be interested in easily accessible information about previous explorations,” Mekonnen said.

Many local and international companies have engaged in oil exploration, including Afar Exploration, Africa Oil, South West Energy Ltd, and Petronas Carigali.

Petronas Carigali has abandoned its oil exploration activities after spending around 350 million dollars during seven years of operation. The company tried to transfer all of its exploration activities to South West Energy, but the deal was not accepted by MoM and the blocks were returned to the government.  

“They spend huge amounts of foreign currency during exploration whether they are successful or not, and the data is used as input for companies new to the country,” Mekonnen said.



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