March 27 (Bloomberg) -- The government of Kenya, which yesterday announced its first oil discovery, expects at least four exploratory wells to be drilled in the country this year.
Drilling will be carried out by Tullow Oil Plc, Apache Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said in a speech read on his behalf today at the Eastern Africa Oil, Gas & Energy Week in Nairobi, the capital.
Tullow found 20 meters (66 feet) of oil in the Ngamia-1 exploration well in Kenya’s northwestern Turkana region with Canadian partner Africa Oil Corp., the London-based company said in a statement yesterday. The well, in Block 10BB, has been drilled to about a third of its target depth.
The find is “the beginning of a long road to make our country an oil producer,” President Mwai Kibaki said in a statement yesterday. It will take “three to five years” for Tullow and the Kenyan government to determine whether to go into development and production at the Turkana site, according to Nyoike’s speech.
“We are pretty confident there is further potential as we drill down,” Ian Cloke, Tullow’s exploration manager for southern and East Africa, said in a speech at the conference.
Tullow is investing $428 million of its $1.98 billion group capital expenditure budget in East Africa, according to a presentation slide shown by Cloke. The company plans to drill as many as 20 wells this year in neighboring Uganda, where the company expects to begin “small-scale” oil production, in partnership with France’s Total SA and Cnooc Ltd. of China, by the end of 2012, he said.
Kenya has 16 blocks that are currently open for oil and gas exploration, of which nine have expressions of interest by companies, according to Nyoike.
Plans by oil and gas companies to carry out “extensive” exploration in Kenya end years of lack of investment in the industry, said Alec Robinson, president of Lion Petroleum Corp.
Ngamia-1 is only the second onshore well drilled in the past two decades in the East African nation, he said at the conference. Lion Petroleum, based in London, holds two exploration areas in northeastern Kenya, including Block 1, which it jointly shares with Afren Plc, and its wholly owned Block 2B, according to the company’s website.
“It’s a greatly unexplored country,” Robinson said.
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