President: Kenya Strikes Oil For First Time

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki says oil has been discovered in his country for the first time, but he cautions it will take years to begin production.

President Kibaki announced Monday the oil was discovered in the northwestern Turkana region over the weekend.

He called the find a “major breakthrough in oil exploration” and added it marked the “beginning of a long journey” to make the country an oil producer.

The British company Tullow Oil said it discovered a 20-meter oil deposit about a kilometer below the earth's surface.

Company spokesman George Cazenove told VOA the discovery is significant, but he noted it is one step in a much larger process.

“Twenty-meters of net oil pay is a reasonable result, it's certainly something that people in Kenya should be excited by. But the well has a lot further to go as well and there may be more oil there, there may not be, so this is essentially a sort of interim result of something that's exciting, but again, I would stress once more that there's much more work to be done.”

Cazenove said Tullow plans to drill the well to a depth of 2,700 meters to determine if there is more oil in the region.

The company plans to drilled two additional wells in Kenya this year and more next year.

The company said the Turkana oil has “similar properties to the light waxy crude discovered in neighboring Uganda.”

Cazenove said the company found oil in Uganda in 2006 and is still four years away for major oil production.

Tullow has already discovered 1.1 billion barrels of oil in Uganda's Lake Albert Basin region and believes another 1.4 billion barrels are yet to be found.

The drilling operations are part of a larger multi-well campaign in Kenya and Ethiopia, spanning an area in excess of 100,000 square kilometers.