Kenya in new search for oil off Lamu coast


A section of Lamu Island. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya has launched a fresh search for oil and gas in its Indian Ocean territory by tapping an American firm to conduct seismic surveys to detail petroleum prospects within Lamu County.

Houston-based ION Geophysical Corp will carry out two seismic surveys in the offshore Lamu basin under the contract issued by the Ministry of Energy.

One will cover new 3D data in the Basin while the second involves the re-imaging of old 2D data.

“We are pleased Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum selected ION to increase the understanding and promote the hydrocarbon potential of these offshore resources to attract future investment,” said ION senior vice president Joe Gagliardi in a statement confirming the deal.

“The programme will leverage our extensive data library and knowledge offshore Kenya and East Africa."

Petroleum and Mining Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau did not immediately respond to the Business Daily queries on the finer details of the survey project.

Oil and gas explorers use seismic surveys to produce detailed images of the various rock types and the location beneath the earth’s surface and to determine the location and size of potential oil and gas reservoirs.

The data gathered would enable Kenya to issue licences to firms that wish to drill and prospect for hydrocarbons in the area.

Kenya has four petroleum exploration basins including Lamu. The others are Anza, Mandera and Tertiary Rift Basin.

There are 63 gazetted petroleum blocks within these larger basins, 26 of which are currently licensed to 14 international oil companies while one is licensed to the National Oil Company.

Oil and gas exploration in the country began in 1956 and the breakthrough came in March 2012 with the discovery of oil in Lokichar, Turkana County.

ION said the work in the Lamu Basin will cover around 14,000 square kilometres and is the larger part of the award.

Prospecting companies have drilled 13 offshore exploration wells in the area but without a commercial discovery as yet.

Kenya is separately pushing forward with its development of the Turkana oil fields nine years since discovery by British firm Tullow.