Turkana County stalls 3,000MW geothermal plan


A Geothermal Development Company engineer monitors a well at Menengai, Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Turkana County has stalled a project by Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to drill at the Baringo-Silali prospect site for the last seven years by denying the project necessary approvals.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu says in a report on the national government expenditure for 2020/21 the GDC indicated that it had requested approval for geothermal development and associated projects from the county government of Turkana through a letter referenced GDC/MD/02/3a/GMM-jat dated May 2015.

“Despite the company’s follow-up efforts through the Principal Secretary Ministry of Energy in May 2021, no response had been received as at the time of audit December 2021,” said Ms Gathungu in an audit of the books of accounts for the Energy ministry.

“[The] lack of approval and authorisation from the county government of Turkana has occasioned delay in commencement of drilling activities at the Silali prospected site.”

According to the GDC, the Baringo-Silali Project is a Government of Kenya and German Development Bank(KfW) sponsored geothermal development project covering three prospect areas namely Paka, Korosi and Silali.

The government is funding the construction of access roads and well pads while KfW, through a Euros 80 million loan, is funding the water supply system, drilling of 15-20 geothermal wells, as well as undertaking project-related consultancies.

GDC says the Baringo-Silali Geothermal Project has an estimated geothermal potential of 3,000MW.

GDC plans to develop 300MW in the first phase of the project with Paka, Korosi and Silali each producing 100MW.

Ms Gathungu flagged the stalled geothermal development at Silali Prospective Site.

She said the amended Loan Agreement between the KfW and the government dated August 26, 2020, for steam field development at Bogoria-Silali Block provided that the loan would finance drilling exploration and appraisal wells carried out by GDC mobilisation and demobilisation of drilling rigs for up to 20 wells in the Bogoria-Silali Block.

“Paragraph 1.3 of the annual report containing project information and overall performance report indicates that geothermal development under the project was to be carried out in three prospective areas, Korosi, Paka and Silali,” Ms Gathungu said.

“However, a review of the project status showed that drilling had only been carried out in two of the prospected areas namely Korosi and Paka.”

The GDC said it has been undertaking geothermal exploration drilling at the Paka and Korosi prospects in the Baringo-Silali Geothermal Project.

“So far, three exploration wells in Paka prospect have been drilled successfully. Two wells have been drilled in Korosi, and drilling of the third well is underway,” the company said on its website.

GDC said Paka Well 3 (PW-03) was successfully discharged on March 16, 2021, following the completion of the heating monitoring period of the well. Drilling of the fourth well in Paka (PW-04) is on course.

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