East Africa's engagement of oil firms boosting discoveries
27 October 2014, 08:19
Nairobi - East African governments' efforts to engage major oil companies which are fully equipped to deploy modern and versatile petroleum exploration technologies is boosting oil and gas discoveries, a Kenyan official said.
Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Commissioner for Petroleum Martin Heya told an oil and gas forum that ended late on Saturday in Nairobi that the use of Full Tensor Gradionometry (FTG) and 3D seismic surveys that increase the precision of targeting of subsurface structures that trap hydrocarbons is turning the region into a major hydrocarbon production area.
"Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia Somalia and Mozambique have all benefited from advanced technologies," Heya said during the Third East Africa Upstream Summit.
"The region is also developing local technical experts who can monitor oil and gas contractor operations as well as verify exploration results as projects progress," he said.
However, he said the region has to overcome the lack of oil and gas infrastructure that could affect revenues.
"A significant mismatch between the pace of discovery and implementation of corresponding infrastructure projects could pose a challenge in monetizing the discoveries," he said.
Kenya has drilled a total of 69 wells since oil exploration efforts began with encouraging discoveries in three basins.
So far, 12 of the wells are discovery wells, with nine containing crude oil and two holding natural, while the Anza Basin contains both oil and gas.
The country's estimated crude oil reserves is about one billion barrels. "The current increased success is also attributed to Kenya's subdivision of sedimentary basins into smaller units," Heya said.
Kenya's Sessional Paper of 2005 on Energy provided for the reduction of block sizes so as to curb tendencies by oil companies to horde them.
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In 2013, the East African nation increased the number of oil blocks from 37 to the current 46. Presently, 41 have been licensed to 21 international oil companies.
The energy ministry official said that Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda all have stand alone petroleum exploration laws for governing upstream petroleum operations.
These laws vest title to petroleum deposits in the national government and are designed to create a favorable legal environment for exploration by oil companies.
Kenya Pipeline Managing Director Charles Tanui said a rapid revolution is being witnessed in the oil industry in the East and Central Africa.
He said the region is now the world's top hydrocarbon exploration area with over 250,000 square kilometers of unexploited land mass.
Tanui said four separate petroleum basin systems have been proven to contain multi- billion barrels, adding that Kenya and Uganda intend to develop 852 kilometer cross border pipeline for transportation of petroleum products.
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