Drilling for Lamu Gas to Start in December

By HSE East Africa | Friday Oct 13, 2017

Zarara Oil & Gas Ltd will soon start drilling two exploration wells on Pate Island off the coast in Lamu following approval of the environmental license by Kenya's National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

The company intends to start drilling Pate-2 by the end of the year and later Pate-3 and hopes to find natural gas in line with the government’s plans to reduce the country's dependence on expensive hydro and thermal power.

Zarara which is a fully owned subsidiary of Midway Resources International registered in the Cayman Islands holds 75% working interest and is the operator of blocks L4 and L13 predominantly located onshore Kenya. The residual working interests, both free-carried until final approval of planned commercial production, are held by CH-Swiss Oil Holdings International at 15% and the National Oil Company of Kenya at 10%.

The exploration license will run until July 2019 following an 18 month extension granted earlier this year. 

Nema's director-general Geoffrey Wahungu said Zarara is required to undertake exploratory drilling at an estimated cost of $159 million. The company has contracted Norwegian company North Sea Well Engineering Limited (Norwell Engineering) as the design and planning company with Chinese Greatwall Drilling Company (GWDC) as the drilling contractor.

Drilling of Pate 2 well is expected to take 120 days. Zarara said it has started mobilizing Greatwall Drilling Company Ltd.’s (GWDC) drilling rig, which is already in the country. 

Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have rolled out a programme to manage the expectations of the local community in Lamu to avoid the Pate project being abandoned by the investor.

KOGWG's Network Coordinator Muturi Kamau said communities from Lamu and Pate Island are being informed about the benefits of Zarara's exploration activities especially in generating electricity from the gas.

"The community is being trained on mitigating perceived risks and engaging in alternative dispute resolution mechanism to avoid confrontations as excess demands can scare away an investor," said Mr Kamau.

Pate Marine Community Conservancy (PMCC) said they fear the livelihoods of farmers growing mangoes, maize, vegetables and coconuts could be affected by the drilling of natural gas wells.

"We are worried about what will happen to farmers whose land is next to the drilling site of the wells. A commercial discovery could affect the lifestyle of the people," said PMCC chairman Mohammed Hussein.

Source: The East African

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