Tullow Says Kenya Sees First Oil Exports as ‘National Priority’

Tullow Oil Plc, which found Kenya’s first crude, said the East African nation considers the start of production and exports as a “national priority.”

The company together with partner Africa Oil Corp. are working with the Kenyan government on a plan to start field development and export pipeline construction as soon as next year, Tullow said today in a statement. It may pump about 50,000 barrels of oil a day in 2020 net to the company, according to the U.K. explorer’s presentation.

“They see it as a project of national priority and they are very focused on getting first oil from Kenya as soon as practical, but doing it properly,” Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade told investors in London. “They recognize that the pipeline from northern Kenya to the coastline is the critical path, and they are in a strong dialog with us.”

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, may become the region’s first exporter of oil as soon as 2016, leapfrogging neighboring Uganda. Tullow continues to explore the Lokichar Basin in the north of the country and expects the export pipeline could accommodate Ugandan exports as soon as 2018.

The U.K. oil explorer doubled its Kenyan resource estimates in January to more than 600 million barrels after the Amosing and Ewoi wells found crude. The Etuko-1 well test flowed 550 barrels of oil and gas a day in the eastern part of the basin, Tullow said.

“The real focus for our business at the moment is Kenya,” McDade said in a phone interview. “That’s a real opportunity because we move so quickly in Kenya. The government there is really getting behind in getting very, very focused on development.”

Kenya’s Energy Secretary Davis Chirchir and Commissioner of Petroleum Martin Heya did not answer calls to their mobile phones when contacted for comment.

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