The exploration drilling for oil and gas in Lamu’s Pate Island is finally ready to take off, 10 months behind schedule.
The drilling, which was scheduled to take place in June last year, was delayed due to technical and financial issues.
On Sunday, all the necessary equipment for the drilling work arrived at the project site in Pate.
The long-awaited equipment had initially been assembled in Mombasa upon importation but was ferried to Pate over the weekend.
The project is being undertaken by a United Arab Emirates' (UAE) company Zarara Oil and Gas Limited and the first phase of drilling is expected to cost Sh2.5 trillion.
The company intends to drill one well, Pate 2, this week and if successful, proceed with a second well Pate 3 to ascertain if the gas discovery is of commercial quantity.
So far, the company has spent about Sh1 billion on seismic surveys alone.
In 2013, Zarara Oil and Gas Limited conducted geophysical surveys over a 400km stretch of blocks L4 in Pate island of Lamu East.
In 1971, Shell oil company had drilled a well, Pate 1, which discovered the presence of gas but the well was plugged and abandoned.
But addressing the public during the spudding (initial drilling) ceremony in Pate and to officially receive the equipment, Zarara's country manager Peter Nduru said all plans had been finalised and drilling would start any time this week.
Mr Nduru said construction of the drilling site is already complete and ready to take the rig.
“In the past two years, Zarara has been preparing to drill one and possibly two wells here at Pate. We have therefore invited you here today to witness the beginning of the drilling operations of Pate 2 well, which will possibly extend to Pate 3 well.
With the equipment on site, Mr Nduru said they will be drilling up to a depth of 300 metres, as they wait for a bigger rig that will extend the drilling to 4,500 metres.
“The drilling of Pate 2 well will take about 80 days. If Pate 2 is successful, the rig will proceed to drill Pate 3, directional to the same depth.
"This phase of the drilling work is scheduled to proceed up to February 2019, by which time the results of the exploration drilling will become clear,” said Mr Nduru.
Lamu Woman Rep Ruweida Obbo, who also attended the event, urged the investor to ensure women and the disabled persons are considered for employment in the project.
“We are encouraging all investors seeking to start projects in Lamu to consider women and the disabled because at the end of the day, we are seeking to have an all-inclusive society,” said Mrs Obbo.
If successful, the project will join some of the county's big economic initiatives, including the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project, the Sh200 billion Coal-Fired Power Plant and the Sh21 billion Lamu Wind Power Plant.