Oil dis­cov­ery called start of ‘long jour­ney’

Pro­duc­tion years off; drilling will con­tinue

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY JA­SON STRAZIUSO

NAIROBI, KENYA | Kenya’s pres­i­dent an­nounced Mon­day that oil has been dis­cov­ered in his East African na­tion for the first time.

Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki cau­tioned that com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of the oil find in the north­west Turkana Dis­trict is still un­cer­tain, but he wel­comed the news, call­ing it “a ma­jor break­through.”

The London- based com­pany do­ing the drilling said the find is sim­i­lar to the light crude pre­vi­ously dis­cov­ered in neigh­bor­ing Uganda.

“This is the first time Kenya has made such a dis­cov­ery, and it is very good news for our coun­try,” Mr. Kibaki said of the week­end an­nounce­ment. “It is, how­ever, the be­gin­ning of a long jour­ney to make our coun­try an oil pro­ducer, which typ­i­cally takes in ex­cess of three years.”

Tul­low Oil PLC said about 65 feet of net oil pay was dis­cov­ered at a site called Ngamia-1.

Tul­low’s ex­plo­ration di­rec­tor, An­gus Mc­Coss, called the dis­cov­ery an “ex­cel­lent start” to Tul­low’s ex­plo­ration cam­paign in the rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia.

“To make a good oil dis­cov­ery in our first well is be­yond our ex­pec­ta­tions and bodes well for the ma­te­rial pro­gram ahead of us,” Mr. Mc­coss said, adding that the firm is work­ing with Kenya’s gov­ern­ment and has plans for fur­ther seis­mic and drilling ac­tiv­i­ties.

Tul­low said many other prospec­tive sites sim­i­lar to Ngamia have been iden­ti­fied “and fol­low­ing this dis­cov­ery the out­look for fur­ther suc­cess has been sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved.”

Echo­ing Mr. Kibaki, Tul­low spokesman Ge­orge Cazen­ove sought to stress that Kenya is only at the be­gin­ning of a long process.

He noted that oil was first dis­cov­ered in Uganda in 2006 and has not yet reached the pro­duc­tion stage.

Though Uganda will get some oil to mar­ket next year, pro­duc­tion won’t reach full speed un­til 2016, he said.

“I think Uganda pro­vides a help­ful par­al­lel,” Mr. Cazen­ove said. “There’s a lot more work to do be­fore we talk about how we get this to pro­duc­tion and how it would af­fect Kenya as a na­tion.”

“It’s a great re­sult but must be seen in con­text. It’s a long-term game for sure,” he said.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Ki­raitu Mu­rungi was quoted by Kenya’s lead­ing news­pa­per, the Daily Na­tion, as say­ing that Tul­low in­formed him that Kenya’s oil de­posits could be big­ger than Uganda’s.

Mr. Cazen­ove de­clined to di­rectly com­ment on Mr. Mu­rungi’s claim but said that Uganda’s and Kenya’s oil po­ten­tial are sim­i­lar.

ARMY PHO­TO­GRAPH

A col­lec­tion of ve­hi­cles built to re­sist mine blasts and pro­tect oc­cu­pants from am­bush are parked in a hold­ing yard at Camp Arif­jan, Kuwait, await­ing ship­ment.

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