UK petroleum company Tullow has discovered more oil deposits in northern Kenya, raising optimism on the wider Turkana Basin prospect.
The firm reported more than 30-metre deep deposits of the high-value light crude oil. This followed the initial discovery of oil at the Ngamia well.
This basin is similar in character to Uganda’s Lake Albert Rift Basin and is also a south-east extension of the geologically older Sudan Rift basins’ trend.
“The second discovery, immediately following the basin-opening Ngamia 1 well result earlier this year, reaffirms the considerable prospects of the Lokichar Basin,” said Keith Hill, president and CEO of Tullow partner Africa Oil.
The “tight fractured play”—which does not easily allow oil to seep through—on the second onshore well with 796 metres of carbon deposits has also been encountered for the first time in East Africa and Tullow officials said this required further evaluation to understand its extent and any productive potential.
Angus McCoss, Tullow Oil Plc exploration director, said further evaluation from a series of flow tests will last between four to eight weeks to understand the extent of the tight fractured rock and potential.
Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike termed this a substantial discovery while industry experts said it was encouraging news and good progress towards confirming commercial quantities of oil. “The implications are that there may be more than 30 metres already confirmed, which by itself is a good volume.
The quality of crude oil is also light and good as it tests above 30 degrees API (The American Petroleum Institute standard),” said industry consultant George Wachira.
“The find is significant. It says something about the wells planned in the Kerio and Lokichar sub-basins,” said industry consultant and former National Oil Corporation of Kenya CEO Mwendia Nyaga.
Analysts at Citi Bank however said Twiga’s level of net pay compared to Ngamia 1’s 120 metres would be seen as a disappointment and any productive potential is likely to be limited.
They however added: “The Twiga South result provides confidence of an active and highly generative source rock working in the region and we still believe that the sub-Lokichar basin could hold towards 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil across the 10-15 prospects that have been mapped.”
Barclays Capital agrees that while the comparison was disappointing the latter well showed the extent of the resource in the basin. “This should therefore be seen as a positive result with the potential to increase resource estimates for the entire basin.”
Energy ministry Officials said drilling at the Twiga South-1 well had been stopped at 2,350 against the target depth of 3,114 metres.
The drilling targets the same structural layers and reservoirs as the Ngamia-1 operated by Tullow which holds a 50 per cent working interest.
Africa Oil holds the remaining half.