Oil discovered off Kenya’s coast

Oil exploration in Turkana. Export of oil would
Oil exploration in Turkana. Export of oil would be another credit positive for Kenya. Pancontinental Oil and Gas NL says they can confirm that their recently completed Sunbird well has intersected an oil column. Photo/FILE 

An Australian firm prospecting off Kenya’s southern coast has reported a verified oil find at one of its recently completed wells in the Lamu Basin.

Pancontinental Oil and Gas NL says they can confirm that their recently completed Sunbird well has intersected an oil column. This makes it the first-ever discovery of oil off the East African coast.

The gross oil column is assessed to be 14 metres thick beneath a gross gas column of about 30 metres in a limestone reservoir in the Sunbird Reef in area L10A. Oil and gas samples have been recovered and analysed using sophisticated geochemical techniques.

The Sunbird Reef is an ancient Miocene pinnacle reef buried beneath approximately 900 metres of younger sediment.

Pancontinental says the results are highly significant because they are the first proof of the presence a prospective offshore oil system in the Lamu Basin. The oil and gas have been geochemically typed in detail and the prospective source rocks have been dated and characterized for use in future exploration.


CEO Barry Rushworth said the implications for regional oil exploration were “truly outstanding”.

“The Sunbird-1 oil is the historic first-ever oil discovery offshore Kenya,” Rushworth said. “Furthermore, it is the only offshore oil column ever reported seaward of the eastern coast… from South Africa to Somalia. We believe that this is a play-opening discovery in Kenya’s Lamu Basin. Because of the Sunbird discovery we expect to see a significant increase in industry interest offshore Kenya.”

Analysis of the Sunbird results has been complicated by the loss of drilling mud, seawater and remedial cement pumped into the limestone reservoir drilling operations.

Pancontinental has an 18.75 per cent interest in the well and block L10A. Others in the Kenya L10A consortium are BG Group (50 per cent) and PTTEP (31.25 per cent).

The firm has three exploration areas in the Lamu Basin covering a total area of about 15,000 square kilometres. The Operator of the Block L10A Petroleum Sharing Contract, BG Group, is continuing to analyse the well data and will recommend a future exploration program using the well results.

“Now that we know there is a prospective oil system and we know the important technical details, we are in a prime position to explore for larger volumes of oil,” Rushworth added.

Sunbird-1 was “plugged and abandoned” in accordance with the drilling program, meaning that the well has been made safe in such a way that it can be left permanently without further intervention. These measures are designed to ensure that there is no danger of leakage of oil or gas within the well or to the sea floor.

The L10A joint venture is considering the details of follow-up exploration activities. Other offshore Kenyan activity includes an exploration well to be drilled by Anadarko, as recently announced for later in 2014.