No hope of finding oil in Kenya

May 18, 2010
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – The government now says the much-hyped possible discovery of oil in Kenya is not yielding anything.

Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said on Tuesday that there is no likelihood that China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) which is prospecting for oil and gas in North Eastern, will find oil that is commercially viable.

“The well is (already) 5,085 metres deep and the temperatures at that depth are very high and therefore there is no possibility of getting oil,” he said.

He also hinted that CNOOC, which was initially meant to sink up to a depth of about 5,600 meters, might not drill any further. 

“Originally, there were supposed to go to a depth of 5,500 to 5,600 metres and up to where they are now, there are no further indications of getting either gas or oil.  They have stopped (drilling),” he added.

The PS’s remarks are the most candid statement from the government, which has remained optimistic of a discovery despite the many odds.

Last week, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said the Chinese firm had discovered gas deposits in four zones of a well in Isiolo and was hopeful that “it was just a matter of time before the country hit black gold.”

This news will therefore come as a disappointment to the country especially to the local community which would have become the major beneficiaries in case of a discovery.

Mr Nyoike however said that CNOOC would still carry out tests in the next one month to determine whether the gas is available in commercial quantities.

“The equipment should be arriving shortly and then the testing will commence. By next month, we will tell the public whether we have commercial quantities of gas,” the PS said.

The country has four major sedimentary basins; Lamu, Tertiary Rift, Anza and Mandera which have a combined surface area of about 400,000km². These basins have been subdivided into 38 exploration blocks with 24 of these already given out for exploration.

The government has been carrying out sustained campaigns to invite investors to put in funds for the exploration of gas or oil in the remaining 14 blocks.

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