President Mwai Kibaki broke the news shortly after 1pm and within minutes of Capital FM News posting the item on Twitter, #TurkanaOil was among the top five trending topics globally.
One tweep said “Thanks Kibaki, that is good news to Kenya indeed.”
Another tweep like @hopemwinzi immediately raised queries on the deal struck between the government and Tullow Oil Plc, the company that is doing the exploration.
“I’m very curious about the revenue sharing agreements our government has with Tullow Oil #TurkanaOil”
And as is typical of the very vibrant online community in Kenya, the trend #TurkanaOil soon expanded with users conjuring up hilarious linkages with Turkana.
@kakarimi said “That awkward Moment when Turkana is a celebrity city.”
Others like @_mubia said the government should consider making Turkana a second national language thus “turkana second national language away wit swa [hili]”
@Rnyagah: “Im finding Nairobi heat unbearable. I wonder how I will cope in#TurkanaOil”
@Lesuuda: By the way when will news of #TurkanaOil reach residents of Turkana and its environs?
While breaking the news to Kenyans, President Kibaki said “Tullow Oil which has been prospecting for oil in block 10BB in Turkana County discovered oil in Ngamia 1 Well at a depth of between 846 and 1,041 meters.”
“They established over 20 meters of what is technically referred to as oil pay. To establish the commercial viability if this oil, they are to drill multiple wells. This is the first time Kenya has made such a discovery and it is very good news for our country,” the President said.
Tullow Oil said in a statement that it had found more than 20 metres of “net oil pay” – industry jargon measuring its economic viability.
“This oil has similar properties to the light waxy crude discovered in Uganda,” said the company, which also struck oil in the neighbouring country.
The find is the first well in Kenya to be tested by the firm, which is exploring oil in several zones in Kenya and Ethiopia. It said it will drill the well further to explore its potential.
Tullow Oil said the find had exceeded their expectations. In 2010, prospecting by China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation in northeastern Kenyan yielded no commercially viable finds.
“This is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia,” said Tullow’s exploration director Angus McCoss.
“To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations and bodes well for the material programme ahead of us,” he added.
The discovery comes weeks after Kenya launched a massive project to build a new port in the coastal town of Lamu and a transport corridor linking oil-rich South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Landlocked South Sudan and Kenya have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a pipeline to export Juba’s crude through Lamu following a bitter oil dispute between South Sudan and its former civil war foe Sudan.