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KENYA: Offshore Drilling to Resume After 7 Year Drought With Eni’s Mlima 1

More than seven years since the announcement of the first oil discovery offshore at the Sunbird-1 well by BG Group in Block L10A another well is set to spud in December at the nearby Block 11B by a JV led by Eni as operator TotalEnergies and Qatar Petroleum. Mlima-1 is also located about 20 km west of the well Kiboko-1 drilled by Anadarko in 2013 and classified as dry.

As previously reported in our 2021-2022 Kenya upstream outlook the $140 well will be drilled by the Saipem 12,000 drillship, because of its flexibility and ease of mobility in deepwater, at a depth of 2560m at a well site is located around 200km from Msambweni, Kwale County off the Kenya coast. OilNews Kenya has learned that the company will use a combination of Water Based Mud (WBM) and Low Toxicity Synthetic Oil Based Muds (LTSBM)  as they are more environmentally acceptable for offshore use with the drilling phase expected to last approximately 55 days (including mobilisation/demobilisation, drilling phase, casing runs, cement jobs, logs, BOP run and retrieve but without well-testing). Support vessels and helicopters will be sourced from Mombasa for operation of the shore-based facilities for handling support services needed by the drillship with a privately  marine base in the port of Mombasa as a main
hub for logistics support services.

The Saipem 12000 with an ability to drill at a maximum water depth of 3650m and  a maximum drilling depth of 10600m drillship once in position will carry out its pre-drilling activities comprising; remote operated vehicle (ROV) dive; positioning; beacon placement and dynamic positioning (DP) trials.
Should any obstacles/sensitivities be identified at the drilling location, the well will be relocated to a nearby location where no obstacles/sensitivities are located.

Thereafter drilling to be undertaken in two stages, namely the riserless and risered drilling stages with commence with the well designed to consist of a three string well design with 12 1/4” open hole in the reservoir section. Planned contingency string is 9 7/8” csg and 8 ½” open hole section.  In total the total well depth is expected to reach 5,325 m with the effective drilling phase taking an estimated 12 days.

Kenya’s oil and gas lobby Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG) in a threat analysis report seen by OilNews Africa called upon the Eni led JV to ensure  that “all drilling waste is treated and transported to shore for further disposal including both Water Based and Synthetic Based mud cuttings and none should be discharged during the initial (riserless) drilling stage.”

Another recommendation was for the design and implementation of a monitoring programme to measure the impacts of the exploration or development activities on the surrounding environment and local populations, and to adjust mitigation measures accordingly if negative impacts are detected.

The drilling is expected to have little disruptions on logistics and other commercial activities such as fishing due to the big distance from land. A 500 m safety zone around the drillship will however be maintained with a standby vessel to be used to patrol the area to ensure that other vessels adhere. It is unclear whether the drillship is already in the site with the last reporting by MarineTraffic 13 days ago placing it off Pemba, Mozambique from where it was to be dispatched.

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