Chinese equipment and oil services company Kerui Petroleum said it has successfully lifted the derrick and substructure for the first 1500HP drilling rig at Ethiopia’s Aluto-Langano Geothermal Energy Project.

The completion of the first rigging up marks a milestone in the 70-MW geothermal energy project, which is part of Ethiopian government’s plans to expand geothermal energy generation in the coming few years, the Chinese firm said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

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 state utility firm Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP).

Under the contract, Kerui Petroleum will 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.

The Aluto-Langano geothermal project’s first exploration work began in 1981. The site already has a geothermal power plant that began operation in 1998 with a production capacity of 7.3 MW. The facility, however, has been closed since 2018 due to technical issues.

Ethiopia, occupying the longest section of the 7,000-km great East African Rift Valley boasts an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW, envisaged to tap into the potential of the geothermal energy to power the country’s development projects.

The energy sector is one of Ethiopia’s priorities as the country envisages becoming a light manufacturing hub in Africa and middle-income economy by 2025.

The East African country had also recently unveiled a 10-year energy roadmap that aims to increase energy generation four-fold using various energy sources such as geothermal, hydro, wind, co-generation and solar power.