KENYA: Mlima Offshore Well Drilling Set for Late Q4, Early 2022

The drilling of Mlima well by Eni, Total and Qatar Petroleum in Block L11A could finally take place according to a reliable source who said preparations are ongoing for a late December of January 2022 spudding as predicted in our 2021 – 2022 Kenya Upstream Outlook.

The well which has been postponed twice once in 2015 by then operator Anadarko and in 2020 is adjacent block L10B which saw the first offshore oil discovery in East Africa at the Sunbird-1 well. The new operator will also hope to turn around the barren luck at the Kubwa well in Block L7 (to the north of L11A) in early 2013 and reinforce the indication of a working hydrocarbon system.

A meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi  is believed to have enabled moving  forward with exploration following the exit of Anadarko. According to Eni in a statement  amendments to the Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) in force were signed, pertaining to three exploration permits offshore Mombasa.

Earlier Australian explorer with equity in the nearby block L10B Pancontinental Oil and Gas (which has since exited the country) had said the results of the drilling will shed light on the geology in the area.

This will be the first well drilled offshore Kenya since 2014 with the volatility in oil prices and the corona pandemic having hampered planned drilling by a number of explorers. Other factors affecting offshore drilling include cost of deploying technology needed for data acquisition and drilling,  lack of primary technical data and going concerns on the existing legal and regulatory framework.

Of the various wells drilled offshore only the Mbawa-1 (gas discovery) and Sunbird-1 (oil and gas discovery) have seen discoveries both of which were considered not to be commercially viable.

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