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Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation expressed its interest in the construction of the proposed oil pipeline from South Sudan to Port of Djibouti via Ethiopia.
The Japanese corporate giant is the second firm to show strong interest in the realization of the project, along with an undisclosed US company based in Houston, Texas.
Diplomatic sources from the Japanese Embassy in Ethiopia told Capital that Toyota has strong interest in undertaking the project, which is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2013.
According to sources who are involved in the project; Juba is very interested in beginning the mission as soon as possible. If the Japanese giant becomes involved in the project it will come with the finance necessary for this huge infrastructure project. The oil pipeline project is expected to cost three billion USD.
Djibouti, South Sudan, and Ethiopia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on February 2, 2012 to build a pipeline, railway and fibre optic cable line from Djibouti to Juba via Ethiopia. Since then the Tripartite Committee began a drafting a future feasibility study about the construction project, which gave priority to building an oil pipeline that can be used to export South Sudan’s petroleum. The signing is an important tripartite agreement for the construction and operation of an oil pipeline from the fields of Southern Sudan to Djibouti through Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Sufian Ahmed, Djiboutian Minister of Economy and Finance, Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, and South Sudan petroleum and Mines Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau met in Addis Ababa on Friday September 28 at the MoFED office and signed an agreement for the next stage of the pipeline project. According to sources, South Sudan is interested in increasing the current 350,000 barrel oil export manifold, due to this it highly likely the construction of the pipeline will be via Djibouti.
Officials said that the joint committee has finalized the initial study for the implementation of the pipeline project.
In the next few months a detailed feasibility study will be completed. Construction will begin after six months, and should cost around three billion USD, although the exact amount will not be known until the study is completed.
According to experts, who have intimate knowledge about the pipeline project, South Sudan’s oil export via Ethiopia is more economically feasible than using Port Sudan, because the Port of Djibouti via Ethiopia is much closer.
According to the initial study, the pipeline construction project will be finalized within 36 months.
Toyota has already undertaken the construction of the five billion dollar oil pipeline linking the proposed Lamu port in Kenya with Juba in South Sudan in the Lamu-South-Sudan Ethiopia transport corridor, one of the key Vision 2030 flagship projects.
Lamu, the newly constructed port, which involved the participation of the governments of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, is considered one of the flagship projects under Kenya’s Vision 2030 development blue print.
“Lamu-Juba pipeline will be built with possible branches to Uganda and Ethiopia,” Kuniaki Yamagiwa, Managing Director Toyota Tsusho Corporation, said a few months ago when the company signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya Vision 2030 delivery board.
“Our proposal includes extensions into Southern Ethiopia where we anticipate they will find oil in the ongoing exploration near the border with Kenya, and another to Democratic Republic of Congo through Uganda,” Toyota Kenya Chairman, Dennis Awori, recently said to Kenyan media, “We view the Lamu-Juba pipeline as the spine, which will have the ability to support the rest of the branches of the network into the region, together with terminals, export pipelines, mooring areas, and the entire accompanying infrastructure.”
Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the investment arm of Toyota Motor Corporation, has over 65 percent of its business in the automotive industry while the rest is in the power and parts business.