Kenya’s profile as a potential petroleum producer Wednesday rose a rung higher after British oil explorer, Tullow Plc, announced that it had discovered additional deposits in the Lake Turkana basin.
Tullow said it had returned a 60 per cent overall success rate for its Kenya programme in the first six months of 2013, which included the drilling of nine exploration wells and appraising 11 others.
“Exploration and appraisal across Tullow’s operated acreage in Kenya continues to be very successful,” the company said in its trading and operations update.
The highlight of the company’s activities in Kenya for the six months to June 30 was the discovery of fresh oil deposits with a net pay of more than 40 metres in Etuko-1, some 14 kilometres east of Twiga South-1 in the Lokichar basin.
Tullow’s partner, Africa Oil, had earlier described Etuko site as one of their most attractive prospects in Kenya, estimating its total reserve at 231 million barrels.
The company had started its drilling on the block in May 2013, making it the first test in the basin located in South Lockichar, Turkana County.
On Wednesday, the British multinational remained positive of prospects in Kenya as it outlined its second half-of-the-year programme which has lined up some 20 exploration sites locally, in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Mauritania, French Guiana and Norway.
“Following recent successes a third rig and a dedicated testing unit have been contracted to support increased exploration and appraisal in Kenya by year-end,” the firm said in a statement.
Tullow’s executives said they had significantly increased their estimate of the resources from both fields after successful flow-testing of Ngamia-1 and Twiga South-1, adjusting potential to over 250 million barrels of oil but warned that this could increase after appraisal.
Early last year, Tullow stirred the local market with the announcement of an oil find in Turkana’s Ngamia-1 exploration block.
The discovery of 200 metres of oil net pay reignited interest in Kenya’s oil and gas exploration fields especially after US-headquartered Apache Corporation followed suit late last year with announcement of discovery of natural gas pay at Mbawa 1 offshore exploration well.
Apart from the approximately 52 net metres (170 feet) of natural gas pay that the US Corporation encountered in three zones, it said the presence of hydrocarbons in its wells pointed to the areas’ oil potential.
The government has since altered its preferred path to the middle income status by adding mining and petroleum as the seventh pillar of the country’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030.
The county’s economic planners estimate that it will take two years for explorers such as Tullow to confirm whether the country has e commercial quantity of oil and another five years before production commences.
“We should use this time to build infrastructure and the human capital required for commercial exploitation of oil,” says Vision 2030 director-general Mugo Kibati.
Wednesday, Tullow announced that its flow testing programme at Ngamia-1 in the Lokichar Basin had been successfully completed and found to have a flow rate totalling 3,200 barrels per day (bpd).
The oil is of 25 to 35 degree American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity, sweet waxy and shows no indication of pressure depletion.
“The analysis of the test data from both the Ngamia-1 and Twiga South-1 wells has resulted in the doubling of our previous estimates of net oil pay to 200 metres and 75 metres respectively,” the company said in its update.
It said the oil discovered so far also had an enhanced flow rate potential of around 5,000 bpd per well and significantly increased discovered volumes.
Ekales-1, the next exploration well lined up in the Basin Bounding Fault Play on trend with Ngamia and Twiga-South, will commence drilling in late July 2013.