Nairobi, Kenya — 13 August 2012 – U.S. explorer Apache Corporation is planning to drill an offshore well off the Kenyan coast soon, expanding the search for oil in the east African country which struck oil onshore in March this year.
Reuters reports that East Africa and the Horn of the continent have become hot spots for oil and gas exploration in recent years, spurred by new finds in countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. However, companies have yet to make oil finds offshore.
Apache will drill in an area known as the Mbawa prospect on Block L8 in the Indian Ocean.
“Spudding is imminent,” said Barry Rushworth, CEO of Pan-continental Oil and Gas “’ one of Apache’s partners with a stake in the block “’ in an email to Reuters.
Apache, the operator in the block, is partnered by British firm Tullow Oil, which made Kenya’s onshore discovery this March, and Australian firms Origin Energy and Pan-continental.
Tullow has placed the odds of the well’s success at 15%, while Pan-continental has estimated the well could contain as much as 4.9 billion barrels of oil.
In 2007, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum drilled Kenya’s last offshore well at a cost of nearly US$100 million, but found no oil deposits and paid the government to exit from a contract that had required the firm to drill a second well.
Apache said in July that it had taken special precautions to ensure the operation went smoothly. It had enlisted the Kenyan Navy to protect the drillship from pirates who have been hijacking ships in the Indian Ocean for ransom.
The well is expected to take 60 days to complete and reach 3,250m below the sea in water depth of 860m.
“The main concern that we have with regard to security is the potential for piracy, hence we have partnered with the navy,” said Tim Gilblom, managing director of Apache Kenya.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.