Geothermal firm acquires new drilling rigs
Posted Sunday, July 15 2012 at 17:35
The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has acquired two rigs from China to speed up drilling of steam wells at Menengai in Nakuru County.
The project has a potential of producing 1,600 megawatts (MW). The first phase is expected to produce 400MW while the second 800MW, power expected to help Kenya reduce its reliance on unreliable and expensive hydro and thermal electricity.
“Menengai is a good field with a lot of potential and by using our own rigs we shall reduce the cost of drilling by half ,” said the GDC communications and public relations manager Ruth Musembi.
The company said it spends about Sh250 million to drill a single well. Drilling of the first well started on February 2011 and was completed three months later.
Four wells have been completed so far and are discharging steam capable of producing 24MW while three others are undergoing tests.
At least four modular power plants will be built at the site by 2016. Nine local and international companies have expressed interest to construct the power plants.
The two rigs are at the Mombasa port, said Ms Musembi.
The company plans to also acquire two more rigs by February next year and this will bring the number of rigs at the site to six.
The government has set aside Sh10 billion for the exploration of geothermal power in the country this financial year. Kenya expects to exploit 5,000MW of its geothermal resources by 2030, to boost power supply.
Meanwhile, GDC has started constructing infrastructural development at Silali-Bogoria block ahead of the drilling expected to start soon. The block has a potential of 4,000MW.
GDC has also acquired a 100 acre piece of land at Kabarak, Nakuru County at a cost of Sh87 million to construct its headquarters.
“We shall still retain our Nairobi office, but the Nakuru office will be the headquarters of GDC where we shall also have our training school,” said Ms Musembi.
The arrival of GDC in the area has seen prices of land go up to Sh800,000 per acre from about Sh100,000.
In May, GDC invited equity investors to fund the development of 800 megawatts of steam at a cost of $800 million (Sh68 billion).
The State-owned firm is seeking a joint venture with four equity firms to fund the Menengai II project in which 120 wells will be drilled and steam sold to power generators such as Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen).