Six years after British firm Tullow Oil announced that it had struck oil in Kenya, four tankers, each carrying 156 barrels arrived in Mombasa on Thursday. It is East Africa’s first commercial oil.
The tankers arrived four days after President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged them off from the Lokichar oilfields in Turkana County, 1,025 km from Mombasa.
The trucks were received by Petroleum and Mining chief administrative secretary John Mosonik and other government officials at the Kenya Petroleum Refinery Ltd plant in Changamwe.
Transportation of the early oil by road will cost $15 million. It takes each truck 10 days to complete a round trip.
At least 2,000 barrels of crude are expected to be transported every day from the Lokichar oilfields to the refinery, where they will be stored.
The Petroleum and Mining Ministry says export will begin once 400,000 barrels arrive at the facility.
After the launch of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS), Kenya now says it will increase investment in the sector in readiness for commercial production, expected to begin around 2021/22.
“My government will focus on the development of our oil and gas sectors for the betterment of the economy and people,” said President Kenyatta as he flagged off the trucks on June 3.
Tullow Oil, which runs the wells, says it is producing about 500 barrels per day from the five wells in the mini-production stage, but the capacity will rise to 100,000 barrels per day in the full-field development stage.
The anticipated growth in production largely depends on when the $1.1 billion 892km heated crude oil pipeline, linking the Lokichar oilfields and the upcoming Lamu Port, will be constructed.
“The pipeline is critical infrastructure to this project. We expect to award the contract not later than 2019,” Tullow Oil Group CEO Paul McDade told The EastAfrican.
The pipeline is being designed by London-listed firm Wood Group Plc, and construction is expected to take three years.
At the KPRL facility, engineers have modified the depot by creating two truck unloading bays, a steam boiler for line heating and reheating the crude oil trucks, and insulated a receiving tank with a capacity of 90,000 barrels.
Kenya Pipeline Company has invested Ksh1.8 billion in improving the facility.
Tullow Oil says it hopes to fetch good prices on the international market.
Kenya’s crude oil is categorised as Brent crude, which is classified as light and sweet, meaning it has low sulphur content at below 0.5 per cent. Ordinarily, this fetches higher prices in the international market due to its refined form that produces high-value products — petrol and diesel.
Tullow Oil, with joint venture partners Total SA of France and Africa Oil Corporation of Canada, have discovered 560 million barrels of crude resources in South Lokichar basin, which straddles block 10BB and 13T.
The Turkana community, which is to be allocated 5 per cent of the oil proceeds, hopes that their livelihood will be uplifted.
“The proceeds should help us get access to clean water and food, and build schools and roads for our children,” said Peter Kamais, a resident of the Turkana basin.
Additional reporting by Samuel Kazungu.