Fresh oil finds raise Kenya’s hopes of commercial drilling


An oil rig at Ngamia 1 in Turkana County where deposits have been confirmed. FILE

Kenya hopes to start commercial oil exploitation in the next three years after promising fresh discoveries of deposits in Turkana basin are confirmed and the support infrastructure laid.

Energy PS Joseph Njoroge said that drilling of oilfields in Turkana for commercial purposes would only commence if the confirmed oil reserves double.

“We expect to strike the 500 million barrels mark before commercial drilling of oil begins,” Mr Njoroge said, adding that this could be in 2017, the year neighbouring Uganda also hopes to start drilling. Reserves estimated at 300 million barrels have so far been confirmed.

This means Kenyans would have to wait longer before experiencing the ripple effects of oil exploitation such as export earnings and lower fuel prices.

In July last year, Tullow Oil Plc’s estimates showed that Turkana exploration basin has in excess of 300 million barrels of oil.

READ: Tullow eyes commercial oil production in Kenya

Mr Njoroge said that prospecting by Tullow in northern Kenya was likely to yield more finds to buttress the case for exploitation.

“Studies have shown Kenya could be having over a billion barrels of oil, meaning we have not yet exhausted oil finds in exploration drilling,” he told the Business Daily.

Since 2011, UK-based Tullow has announced five oil discoveries in Turkana at Ngamia-1, Etuko-1, Twiga South-1, Amosing-1and lately Agete-1.

Mr Njoroge confirmed that plans are afoot to build a pipeline connecting the Lamu port to the oil fields in Turkana to facilitate flow of the commodity.

Kenya currently imports all of its refined oil after the shutdown of the aging Kenya Petroleum Refineries Ltd last year which used to refine 60 per cent of oil imports.

Kenya’s oil landscape is divided into four exploration basins including Lamu Basin along the Coastal strip, Anza Basin, Tertiary Rift Basin and most successful Mandera Basin – where Turkana exploration block is located. At present, there are 46 oil exploration blocks in the country.