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Firms granted more time to search for oil and gas in Kenya

Kenya’s government has given Canada-based Africa Oil Corporation and its exploration partner Tullow Oil Plc of the UK an extra year to gather drilling data in the firms’ search for oil and gas in the country.

Kenya granted one-year licence extensions for each of two blocks, ‘10BB’ and ‘13T’ in the Lokichar basin, setting the new dates of expiry for the contracts as July and September 2017 respectively.

Africa Oil said the extensions were the result of “delays” in acquiring 3D seismic surveys of the blocks.

Africa Oil president and chief executive officer Keith Hill said ongoing drilling in the discovered basin in Northern Kenya had been “quite helpful” in understanding the geology of the area and “will no doubt be enhanced by the ongoing 3D seismic survey which is to be completed by the end of 2014”.

Hill said: “We remain very bullish in not only the existing discoveries but in the remaining prospects in the discovered basin in Northern Kenya. We are looking forward to the results of three new basin opening wells to be drilled in late 2014 and early 2015, which have the potential to unlock significant value in terms of new prospects and resources.”

Africa Oil owns a 50% working interest in Blocks 10BA, 10BB and 13T with Operator Tullow Oil holding the remaining 50%.

In an updated assessment of oil in the oil fields discovered to date in the South Lokichar basin, released last September, Africa Oil said total “best gross contingent resources” increased by 67% to 616 million barrels of oil and total “high gross contingent resources” increased by 52% to 1.29 billion barrels of oil.

Last month, the World Bank and other international institutions pledged a combined total of more than $8 billion in new financial assistance to support infrastructure projects including the development of oil and gas pipelines across all eight countries in the Horn of Africa including Kenya.

A report published earlier this year by the International Monetary Fund said Kenya’s medium-term growth prospects are favourable, supported by rising infrastructure investment in energy and transportation and the expansion of the East African Community market.

According to the African Development Bank’s Country Strategy Paper for Kenya for 2014-18 (53-page / 1.15 MB PDF), recent discoveries of oil, gas and coal could help propel Kenya to “middle-income country status in the medium term”. The bank said it wanted to work with development partners and the private sector to “leverage funding” for infrastructure development in Kenya, rather than act as a sole financier.

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