East Africa’s first offshore oil discovery

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Pancontinental Oil and Gas NL, an Australian oil exploration firm, has confirmed that its recently completed Sunbird well off the Kenyan coast near Lamu County has intersected an oil column. This makes it the first-ever oil discovery off the East African coast.

The gross oil column is assessed to be 14 metres thick beneath a gross gas column of about 30 metres in a limestone reservoir in the Sunbird Reef in area L10A. Oil and gas samples have been recovered and analysed using sophisticated geochemical techniques. The Sunbird Reef is an ancient Miocene pinnacle reef buried beneath approximately 900 metres of younger sediment.

Pancontinental says the results are highly significant because they are the first proof of the presence a prospective offshore oil system in the Lamu Basin. The firm’s CEO Barry Rushworth said the implications for regional oil exploration were truly outstanding adding that it is the only offshore oil column ever reported seaward of the eastern coast from South Africa to Somalia. Rushworth adds that they believe that this is a play-opening discovery in Kenya’s Lamu Basin and they expect to see a significant increase in industry interest offshore Kenya.

This is good news to Kenya’s economy as the new discovery adds to the Turkana finds by Tullow Oil, which have already been assessed to be commercially viable, with the government preparing to start production by 2018. Tullow Oil discovered 600 million barrels of oil reserves at Block 10BB in the Lokichar Basin in Turkana County which has been raised to potentially one billion barrels, but exploration continues.

The ministry of Energy is preparing to issue an international tender for the construction of a crude oil pipeline to connect the Turkana oil field with the Lamu port. The pipeline is scheduled for completion in 2016.
Pancontinental has an 18.75 % interest in the well and block L10A while the other firms in the Kenya L10A consortium include BG Group 50 % and PTTEP 31.25%.

The firm has three exploration areas in the Lamu Basin covering a total area of about 15,000 square kilometres. The Operator of the Block L10A Petroleum SharingContract, BG Group, is continuing to analyse the well data and will recommend a future exploration program using the well results.