HARGEISA (Reuters) - PetroTrans, a Chinese petroleum firm, will carry out extension works to Somaliland's Berbera port, after it signed a deal with the government of the breakaway enclave of Somalia, the foreign minister of Somaliland said on Saturday.
The Horn of Africa has been attracting increased investments in the area of exploration by foreign oil firms, due to its proximity to east Africa, where oil has been discovered in Uganda and natural gas found in Tanzania.
"Redevelopment of Berbera Port to make it a gateway to East Africa is the major project of the framework of an agreement signed by the government of Somaliland and PetroTrans Company," Mohamed Abdillahi Omer told Reuters.
"The agreement has not been finalised as financial and technical details will be finalised in the next few weeks."
In addition to extension of the port, other projects will be carried out under the terms of the deal that was signed when the Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo visited China last week.
They include laying pipelines for natural gas and fuel to Ethiopia. A refinery will also be built at the port, as well as a road linking Berbera to Wajale, a town on the Ethiopia-Somaliland border.
PetroTrans has signed a separate agreement with the Ethiopians.
Somaliland, which has been contributing to the fight against piracy off the Somali coast, hopes the deal will create thousands of jobs, raise its profile and attract more investments into the region.
It declared independence from Somalia in 1991.