The Ministry of Energy yesterday gazetted the 63 oil blocks with their new coordinates and location in what annuls the previous blocks.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 7(1) of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 1986, the cabinet secretary for energy and petroleum has constituted 63 petroleum exploration blocks,” Energy Secretary Charles Keter said in the gazette notice.
Keter said in the notice that 37 of the blocks are located in the Lamu basin, seven in the Anza basin, five in the Mandera basin, and 14 in the Tertiary Rift Basin. The notice shows all the blocks defined by their longitudes and latitude, their sizes and block maps.
This means that the country now has 17 new oil blocks that it can issue to prospective firms as it steps up its oil exploration initiatives.
“We gazetted 46 oil blocks in 2012. But after the new production sharing contracts, we agreed with companies to relinquish between 20 to 25 per cent of their blocks. This gave us a lot of acreage that we used to create the new blocks,” Mr Martin Heya, the Commissioner for Petroleum Energy at the Ministry of Energy, said.
The Energy ministry said it expects to hold its first ever auction of petroleum exploration licences in 2017 and this development is expected to clear the way for the process.
The country discovered 600 million barrels of crude oil in South Lokichar and it hopes to increase yields from the new blocks. In the past, “briefcase” companies have landed on exploration licences for speculation purposes and only to sell them to prospective explorers at exorbitant prices.
“It is a long process that we did with the Survey of Kenya. We constituted all the blocks and the country now has 63 blocks as published in the gazette notice. This was necessary so that we annul the previous gazette notice that had only 46 blocks and have the current ones. We now have 17 blocks to license,” Mr Heya explained.
This comes days after Kenya started the process to build its own crude oil pipeline days after attempts to team up with Uganda failed.
Kenya’s case has been further complicated after South Sudan said it was contemplating an alternative route via Ethiopia to Djibouti instead of South Lokichar in northern Kenya through Isiolo to Lamu on the Indian Ocean.
The country, which is now going it alone, is scouting for consultants to carry out an engineering design — Front End Engineering Design (FEED) — for the pipeline from Lokichar in Turkana to Lamu and another consultant to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).