Politics and policy
Kenya: Oil exploration companies find more deposits
Posted Wednesday, July 4 2012 at 20:17
Kenya’s chances of discovering substantial amounts of commercially viable oil deposits increased on Thursday with the discovery of an extra 43 metres of oil at Ngamia-1 well in Turkana County.
Africa Oil Corporation and Tullow Oil, which co-own the well, announced the latest find bringing to 143 metres, the total depth of oil found in the same well. An initial depth of 100 meters of oil was discovered in March.
The two firms said the latest find pointed to more potential discoveries in the region. Drilling at the Ngamia-1 well has, however, been suspended after the rig encountered a fault. Prospecting will now move to the Twiga-1 well, which is located 30 kilometres northeast in Block 13T.
“Our Kenyan exploration campaign has begun with a wildcat well result, which substantially exceeded expectations,” said Martin Mbogo, Tullow Kenya Country Manager, adding that the total oil find was more than double that of any of their East African wells drilled to date.
The two firms said they had identified over 100 leads and prospects in seven separate basins located in Kenya’s and Ethiopia’s rift regions.
Industry experts say the two discoveries in the Ngamia-1 well have improved the chances, or what is known as de-risking, of hitting oil in other prospective reservoirs located nearby. “The successes achieved in this single well have increased the chances of finding oil in surrounding areas and across in Ethiopia,” said George Wachira, the director of Petroleum Focus Consultants.
However, he said, it was too early to establish the commercial viability of the oil.
“It takes more than one well establish the amount and commercial viability of oil in a basin. This is why they are moving out to areas adjacent to Ngamia-1,” said Mr Wachira.
The two finds were made in two sections of the Ngamia-1 well, the Upper and Lower Lokhone sands.
The earlier find was made in the Upper Lokhone sands where an overall oil bearing section of 650m yielded 100m of oil while an oil bearing section of 150m in Lower Lokhone sands yielded 43m of oil.
Despite the latest finds, Kenyans will still have to wait a little longer to ascertain the exact amount of oil discovered.
The two firms say that the proximity of the Ngamia-1 oil finds to the fault zone necessitated suspension of not only drilling, but of plans to conduct viability tests.
“Tullow has not been able to accurately calculate the net pay encountered in this lower section due to disruption caused by the proximity of the fault zone,” the firm said in statement released yesterday.
The fault forced a halt to drilling of Ngamia-1 at a depth of 2,340m, 360m below the initially intended depth of 2,700m.
This is said to have cut off approximately 100m of potential reservoirs, meaning the 43m oil find could have been much higher.
However, Tullow said it expected to encounter the complete Lower Lokhone Sands section - where the reservoir quality is expected to improve - further away from the fault.
In coming months, the partners will focus on the Twiga-1 well, whose drilling is expected to start from September.
Once drilling at this new well has been completed the rig will return to Ngamia-1 for flow testing, whose equipment is being procured. Tullow oil says it is also mobilising two rigs for driling Paipai in Block 10A in Marsabit County and for the Sabisa prospect in the South Omo block in Ethiopia.