Last Updated: 2012-06-27
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By Stanley Wabomba

NAIROBI, June 27 (NNN-KBC) -- Kenya will be able to join the ranks of African oil producing nations in 2018 provided the oil find made recently in Turkana County in Rift valley Province is declared commercially viable, says National Oil of Kenya Managing Director Sumayya Athmani.

The time taken to determine the viability of the oil wells as well as putting up infrastructure for harnessing and transporting the oil will result in the six years' lag between discovery of oil and the start of production, she explained at a forum with editors to discuss issues relating to the oil sector in Kenya here Tuesday.

The discovery of oil in Kenya three months ago sent the country into frenzy with expectations that the high pump price of petrol which consumers had been paying would become history.
Also, most Kenyans are expecting improved standards of living to result from oil export revenues.

All this is subject to confirmation that the crude oil find is commercially viable, however, stressed Sumayya, who added: "Declaration of the commerciality of a crude oil find takes much more time. It takes between one and two years."

She said said the company involved in exploration needed to establish the cost of putting up infrastructure as well as the overheads to be incurred to know if the oil find could off-set the costs before starting production.

She said although neighbouring Uganda discovered crude oil in 2006, production there was yet to begin because of the long processes involved between discovery and actual production. Kenya was likely to face a similar situation.

"It is likely to take Kenya another six years for the country to start production because of similar issues like the ones facing our neighbour," she noted.

Saying that National Oil of Kenya was also exploring oil in block 14T located near Lake Magadi, she noted the high costs involved in such a venture. "Chances of success are one in every ten wells explored, and this is notwithstanding the heavy capital invested in the exploration process," she said. -- NNN-KBC