Tullow strikes more oil in Turkana

An oil drilling block managed by British company Tullow Oil at Lokichar basin in Turkana county. AFP PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA
An oil drilling block managed by British company Tullow Oil at Lokichar basin in Turkana county. AFP PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA 

Kenya has struck the second fresh oil find in Turkana fields since the year began, taking the country closer to hitting a billion barrels of recoverable reserves.

British explorer Tullow Oil, the developer of oilfields in northern Kenya, on Wednesday announced it had struck 75 metres of oil in two zones at the Emekuya-1 well in Block 13T of the Lokichar basin, Turkana.

The find comes four months after the exploration company discovered another 25 metres of oil at Erut-1 well in the same block in January.

This is set to lift Kenya’s estimates of the black gold past a billion barrels from the current 750 million barrels of recoverable oil so far discovered.

Early export plan

It also emboldens the country’s case in its plan to start small-scale oil exports next month to test the receptivity of its crude in the global market.

“The Emekuya-1 exploratory appraisal well has made an important discovery in the northern part of the South Lokichar Basin. This well has proven oil charge across a significant part of the Greater Etom structure and we are very encouraged by the quality and particularly the regional extent of the reservoir,” Tulllow said Wednesday in a statement.

“We now look forward to the remainder of the Kenya exploration and appraisal campaign in support of the ongoing work to prepare this important asset for Full Field Development.”

Kenya plans small-scale oil exports — 2,000 barrels per day — from June to test the receptivity of its oil in the global markets, ahead of the full field development involving construction of a Sh210 billon pipeline.

In the plan, trucks will move 2,000 barrels of oil per day by road, in the absence of a pipeline, to be stored at Changamwe refinery tanks in Mombasa, pending shipment.

China and India have emerged as the main buyers of the Turkana crude oil. The Indian route offers the lowest freight cost for Kenyan crude at $2.50 per barrel (Sh257).

Kenya dropped its earlier target market in Europe, citing distance as an impediment and Suez Canal passage costs.

The latest oil find at Emekuya involved drilling to a depth of 1,356 metres.

Emekuya-1 is located 2.5 km north of Etom-2 well, where oil deposits have previously been struck in the South of Lokichar basin.

Tullow operates oil block 13T, in which Emekuya-1 is located, and block 10BB with a 50 per cent shareholding together with partners Africa Oil (25 per cent) and Maersk Oil (25 per cent).