Kenya Exports Oil for the First Time: What Can We Learn from Other Countries?

Oil Exploration and Production Journey

Kenya exported 200,000 barrels of crude oil to ChemChina, a Chinese company, at a cost of Ksh 12 billion in August 2019. This marked yet another milestone regarding Kenya’s oil exploration and production journey which begun in the 1950s. The first milestone in this journey was made in 2012 with the discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in the Tertiary Rift basin in Turkana. The discovery was made by Tullow, a British Oil Company. Since this discovery, the oil company has dug about 86 wells within four oil basins namely: Lamu, Tertiary Rift, Mandera, and Anza. Tullow oil considers the Tertiary Rift as the most promising among the four basins. The company estimates that Lokichar sub-basin within the Tertiary Rift has about 4 billion barrels of crude oil.

The exportation of this crude oil was also an indication of progress made regarding the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) launched in June 2018. The scheme was an experimental research project undertaken during the first phase of oil exploration with the objective of informing full field development of oil in the next phase of commercial production. Specifically, EOPS has been instrumental in collecting data on oil reserves, building technical capacity and experience for national and county governments, and in providing information on progress of oil exploration in Turkana. Since its inception, EOPS has overseen transportation of about 2,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Turkana to Mombasa using trucks. The 200,000 barrels of crude oil exported in August 2019 was as a result of reserves built from this daily transportation. Transportation of crude oil is still ongoing, with the objective of building up reserves for subsequent exportation.

To move from oil exploration phase into the next phase of commercial production, Kenya needs to sign the Final Inves