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
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
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
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,”
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.