AGIL to drill first exploration well in Longonot

Mr Mohamed Hassan, NBK chairman. photo | DIANA NGILA
Mr Mohamed Hassan, NBK chairman. photo | DIANA NGILA 

African Geothermal International Limited (AGIL), a firm linked to National Bank of Kenya chairman Mohamed Hassan, will start drilling its first exploration steam well in Longonot from June after five years of delays.

The firm said it would cost a minimum of $5 million (Sh515 million) to drill one well, the target being to sink up to 40 wells expected to generate 140 megawatts of geothermal electricity.

Mr Hassan, the National bank chairman, is a co-director at the AGIL. The company in 2013 announced it would start sinking wells in Longonot in search of steam and build a power plant at a cost of $600 million (Sh61.8 billion).

The drilling is yet to start five years later. A steam well takes about 60 days to drill, reaching depths of up to 3.5 kilometres.

Drilling engineers on the ground, who did not wish to be quoted, said the firm is currently laying the infrastructure such as passable roads to pave the way for the first drills in June.

Other directors of the company include Fred Ojiambo, a prominent lawyer with Kaplan & Stratton and UK-based Brian Mitchell. Agil’s chief executive Fassine Fofana, a Guinean is also a founder director.

In 2013, the company announced it had already secured $10 million (Sh1 billion) in equity to start the exploration and another $8.4 million (Sh865 million) was to be signed with the African Union Commission.

The firm said it has the option of hiring out drilling rigs from either Geothermal Development Company (GDC) or KenGen, both state-owned agencies.

Agil got the licence for drilling in 2009, the same year it was incorporated. It was given an area of 132 square kilometres around Mt Longonot for exploration and production for 30 years.

In Kenya, the GDC is mandated to drill exploration wells in search of steam on behalf of investors to derisk the venture before handing the steam wells to power producers who pay for the steam, in return.