Oil Exploration in Kenya

British Petroleum (BP) and Shell began exploring hydrocarbons in 1954 in the Lamu Embaymen

British Petroleum (BP) and Shell began exploring hydrocarbons in 1954 in the Lamu Embayment which resulted in the drilling of ten wells between 1960-1971. The consortium acquired 11,982 km of 2D seismics, 29,725 km of aeromagnetic data as well as 3,814 km of gravity. None of the wells drilled were fully evaluated or completed for production despite several indications of oil staining and untested zones with gas shows in some wells.

Texas Pacific drilled Hargaso-1 in 1975 that encountered oil and gas shows. Between 1985 and 1996, Amoco and Total drilled another ten exploration wells with no significant success though minor oil and gas shows were encountered in some of the wells. 

Interest in the offshore Lamu Basin within the 1970s-1980s resulted in the drilling of three wells; Simba-1, Maridadi-1 and Kofia-1. Simba-1 was unsuccessful while the latter two encountered hydrocarbon shows. A Lamu basin study by National Oil between 1991-1995 led Kenya to subdivide the basin (both onshore and offshore) into 10 exploration blocks, with a further two created by 2001. This, followed by massive gas discoveries in Mozambique in 2003, renewed exploration interest within the region. Gazettement of new blocks in 2003 allowed Woodside Petroleum to farm into seven offshore blocks, acquiring 11,449.6 km of 2D seismic and drill Pomboo-1 well (dry) in 2007. To date, a further four wells have been drilled; Mbawa-1 (gas discovery), Kubwa-1 (dry), Kiboko-1 (dry) and Sunbird-1 (oil and gas discovery). So far, additional 2D and 3D seismic have been acquired within the region as well as additional blocks created from relinquished acreage both onshore and offshore.

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