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Kenya : The next big oil exporter?

16 Oct

Oil and Gas, one of the most lucrative industries in the world, known to transform deserted regions to spectacular developed cities. The United Arab Emirates comes to mind, once sparsely populated then rapidly transformed into a multi billion dollar success powered by the global thirst for petroleum products. Inevitably oil exploration entered into overdrive and leaving success tales along the way for some countries and disaster for some depending on how one looks at the turn of events. The economies of country’s like Norway and Venezuela has grown leaps and bounds and the discovery of oil in some has seen significant improvements in the GDP of countries like Angola. Countries like Nigeria are also large oil exporters but continue to suffer from one crisis to another due to a multitude of problems of a political nature. We shall not get into that in detail though.

When it comes to new oil and gas frontiers, today it’s all about Africa. And more specifically, it’s all about the eastern coast, with Kenya the clear darling — not just because it’s outpacing neighbouring Uganda by leaps and bounds, but also because despite some political instability hiccups and the threat of militant al-Shabaab, it’s still one of the safest venues in the region. Kenya is blessed to have potential in both offshore and onshore oil deposits. Both small independent companies and the large international corporations are competing for exploration rights and currently Tullow Oil—the British explorer behind Kenya’s oil discovery début in 2012—announced another oil find that will extend the already proven South Lokichar basin. Earlier this year, in May, Tullow and partner Africa Oil Corporation left a hefty impression on the market with the announcement of the country’s first commercial oil discovery worth $10 billion, in this basin. The Basin is part of the East African Rift system, a long line of geologic faults where plate tectonics is working to tear the eastern portion of Africa away from the rest.  The area in Kenya now being worked by Tullow saw a small discovery in 1992, but low prices made development uneconomic. Adding to that is the quality of oil in Lokichar crude is the “light and sweet” variety meaning it is relatively pure oil lacking impurities and can be readily and easily refined therefore meaning the costs of production are significantly lowered increasing profit margins.

Kenya stands at the heart of the East African oil powerhouse that is rising, The combination of Kenya’s oil discoveries and the large discoveries in Uganda and the existing fields in South Sudan which could easily have 3 billion barrels in reserve and the fact that Kenya is extremely well placed for that as well with its LAPSSET project, an ambitious plan to develop a transport corridor from the new port of Lamu through to Garissa, Isiolo, Mararal, Lodwar and Lokichoggio to branch at Isiolo to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. The existing infrastructure and  the potential developments makes Kenya well placed to lead Africa in oil and gas production.

So, when looking for an oil and gas play in Africa to sink your teeth into, consider Kenya. The country has got a lot of very valuable crude oil, several neighbours who need a way to get their own crude to market, and a port that will soon be a new nexus of the oil trade for all points east of the Suez Canal, including the thirsty Asian giants India and China.  From an investment perspective, an onshore opportunity like this is not likely to come again any-time soon.

 

 
 

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