Asheber Balcha, the Managing Director of Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has announced that drilling works for the Aluto-Langano geothermal project, located approximately 216 km southeast of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, will begin this month on the 18th day to be precise.
Mr. Balcha made the announcement during a recent visit to the Aluto Langano geothermal site where the Chinese equipment and oil services company dubbed Kerui Petroleum successfully lifted derrick and substructure for the first 1500HP drilling rig sometime last year.
In February 2019, Kerui Petroleum, in partnership with Kenya’s state-owned power producer Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC, signed a contract with Ethiopia’s EEP, under which, the Chinese company would supply two sets of 1500HP drilling rigs, personnel training, drilling operation, and related technology transfer for the drilling initially of the 22 wells at Aluto-Langano.
Aim of the project
The aim of the project is to expand the capacity of an existing geothermal power plant that first entered its operation phase back in 1998 with a nominal capacity of 8.5 MWe and a net power generation capacity of 7.3 MWe.
However, corrosion, hydrothermal blockages, leaks, and lack of expertise of the plant’s staff led to a decline in power generation capacity several times, followed by extensive repairs and rehabilitation work including corrosion damage and eventually, closure of the facility back in 2018.
Geothermal potential of the East African country
Occupying the longest section of the 7,000-km Great East African Rift Valley, Ethiopia boasts an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW that the government plans to tap into so as to power the country’s development projects and contribute to its aim of becoming a light manufacturing hub in Africa and middle-income economy by the end of the next five years.