US firm joins hunt for oil in Kenyan coast

Written By Michael Maunda on Thursday, August 9, 2012 | 12:28 AM

An American company has started the search for oil off the Kenyan Coast, barely four months after Tullow Oil struck huge reservoirs in Turkana County.

Apache Corporation will start drilling in the Lamu basin in a week at a block known as Mbawa 1, 70 kilometres off the shoreline.

The company’s public and international affairs manager, Mr John Roper, told the Daily Nation the project would start between August 10 and 15.

“The well, called the Mbawa 1, is targeting what we hope is a large oil reservoir. The Mbawa well will take about two months to drill to its planned depth of 3,200 metres. The main challenge we face in drilling this well is the same as whenever we drill an exploratory well — we won’t know for sure what we have got until we’re finished,” he said.

Mr Roper said they had contracted Deepsea Metro 1, a ship owned by Odfjell Drilling Company of Bermuda, to sink the well.

He said the block was picked because it is identical with the ones on the northern shores of Madagascar where the company found more than 30 billion barrels of oil.

“If you move Madagascar over to Kenya (as if they are puzzle pieces), you’ll see its northern and western coasts fit very nicely into the coast of Kenya, where it actually originated prior to the major plate breakup that happened about 150 million years ago. 

“Along Madagascar’s northern shore there’s about 30 billion barrels of oil in place. If you do plate reconstructions, what you find is it fits very nicely with our block position in the Lamu basin. The oil found in Madagascar comes from Jurassic source rock and we believe this same source could be in the area where we are planning to drill off of the coast of Kenya,” Mr Roper said.

He said they were discussing with government, business leaders and community representatives plans for the exploration. 

The group has assured fishermen that they will not be displaced by the oil hunt.

Project cleared
The project has already been cleared by the National Environmental Management Authority.
On Wednesday, The New York Times described Apache as an independent energy company, which explores for, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. 

“As of December 31, 2011, Apache had exploration and production interests in six countries: the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, offshore the United Kingdom in the North Sea, and Argentina,” it said. 

This is not the first time multinationals are digging up the seabed for oil. In 2008, Woodside Energy wound up activities in Lamu after drilling a dry well the previous year. 

The company sunk a 4,887-metre well only to find sandstones and fresh water.
In 2007, China National Offshore Oil Corporation surrendered four blocks in order to carry out a seismic survey to map out oil potential deposits.

Tullow is currently exploring whether the Turkana reservoirs are commercially viable.

Source: Nation Madia