September 29, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Despite Ogaden rebels repeated warnings against foreign oil exploration in Somali region, the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Energy vowed to continue the oil project.

Two weeks ago the Ogaden National liberation Front (ONLF) threatened foreign oil firms to refrain from engaging in oil exploration in the region or face harsh consequences.

However Ethiopia’s ministry of mines and energy down plays the threats saying that every empty threat by the Ogaden rebels cannot obstruct the ongoing oil venture.

“There is no any serious security threat in the region that could lead to closure or endanger foreign oil firms” said minister Alemayehu Tegenu.

Ethiopian forces launched an assault against the rebels after the 2007 attack on a Chinese-owned oil exploration field which killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese. Addis Ababa now says the ONLF has been defeated.

“The group, unlike it bluffs, is so weaken at this point and doesn’t have capacity to carry out attacks” he added.

ONLF’s latest warning came after a Malaysian oil firm reportedly resumed drilling at the region.

In a statement it issued on September 16, the rebel group said “No business should be conducted in Ogaden, until there is a political solution to the conflict,”

We “will not be responsible for any collateral damages that occur from its engagements with the Ethiopian army,” it added accusing oil companies of “disinheriting the Ogaden people of their natural resources.”

The rebel group in the past directly threatened Petronas , the Malaysian state-owned company, which is one of more than a dozen international explorers hunting for oil and gas in Ethiopia.

Source: Sudan Tribune, Sept 30, 2009