NAIROBI, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Australian energy explorer Pancontinental Oil and Gas said on Monday its venture has recorded a significant gas discovery off the Kenyan coast.
In a statement, the oil firm said the gas was discovered in the Mbawa 1 exploration well in the L8 licence area offshore Kenya, adding that drilling was now continuing towards a deeper exploration target.
"While we have not finished operations in Mbawa 1, this gas discovery is very promising and it is the first ever substantive hydrocarbon discovery offshore Kenya," Pancontinental CEO Barry Rushworth said in a statement.
"We are delighted to prove that there is a working hydrocarbon system offshore Kenya. Further work continues to evaluate the size of the discovery."
The Kenya L8 Joint Venture consortium consists of Apache Corporation (50 percent), Origin Energy Limited (20 percent), Pancontinental Oil & Gas NL (15 percent) and Tullow Kenya B.V.(15 percent).
While decades of oil exploration failed to yield results, in most cases, ending with nothing less than a bottle of crude oil, an oil expert said there were high hopes of Kenya striking oil with the advent of new oil exploration technologies.
Engineers working for an Irish oil exploration firm, Tullow Oil, announced early this year that quantities of oil were discovered in Turkana, northern Kenya.
The rock on which the oil was discovered is over 20 meters deep and is believed to bear larger oil quantities than those discovered by Tullow in Uganda three years ago.
Kenya and the entire East African region, has witnessed intensified exploratory activity since 2003, which led to the discoveries of oil and gas in Uganda and Tanzania. There is also ongoing exploration in Ethiopia.
On Monday, Pancontinetal Oil and Gas said the Mbawa 1 well has encountered approximately 52 net meters (approx. 170 feet) of natural gas pay in porous cretaceous sandstones.
Rushworth said the Mbawa 1 exploration well was drilled to a depth of 2,553m RT (below the drill floor), at which point wireline logs, fluid samples and sidewall cores were acquired from the well.
He said the reservoir and fluid parameters will become available as logs and sample analyses are completed. Drilling has recommenced towards the planned TD of 3,275m RT. A secondary exploration target lies above the planned TD.
Rushworth thanked Kenyan government for its cooperation and support in achieving this very positive initial outcome for the country, for the L8 joint venture and for Pancontinental.
"With drilling continuing to a deeper exploration target, these interim results may be the first part of the story in this well, and they are certainly just the beginning of the main story of oil and gas exploration offshore Kenya," Rushworth said.
Experts say new techniques, particularly 3D seismic, have globally enhanced the explorer's ability to find oil and gas and the high success rates in Mozambique and Tanzania prove that these techniques are extremely effective offshore East Africa.
The East African nation has a huge mineral potential but its exploration efforts have only picked in the last five years with the awarding of commercial licences in prospecting for oil, gold, coal, geothermal and rare earths.
Kenya is also expected to tender for the for the exploration of natural gas in Kilifi, near the coastal city of Mombasa, according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Patrick Nyoike.
One of the contributors for slow exploration of minerals in Kenya has been lack of mapping of the resources.
The East African Rift Basin system is one of the last of the great rift basins to be explored. New discoveries have been announced on all sides of Africa Oil's virtually unexplored land position including the major Albert Graben oil discovery in neighboring Uganda.