By ALEXIS FLYNN
LONDON-Tullow Oil PLC discovered crude oil in Kenya in its first attempt at exploratory drilling in the East African country.
The London-based company said it found oil in the northwestern region of Turkana, where Tullow is assessing the commercial viability of crude prospects in the Ngamia geological structure. The discovery continued Tullow’s recent record of exploration success following discoveries in Ghana, Uganda and French Guiana.
The find was “beyond our expectations,” Tullow Exploration Director Angus McCoss said. “This is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia.”
Tullow shares closed at £15.70 ($24.92), up 6.6% in London.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki told reporters the discovery was a “major breakthrough.”
He cautioned, however, that more wells would have to be drilled to see whether there was enough oil to warrant investment. “It isâ€¦the beginning of a long journey to make our country an oil producer, which typically takes in excess of three years.”
Tullow, which last month completed a $2.9 billion sale of part of its interests in three Ugandan oil blocks to France’s Total SA and China’s Cnooc Ltd., has targeted East Africa as a potentially important hydrocarbon province. The three companies expect to get approval by next year for development of Uganda’s nascent oil industry, including the construction of a pipeline and a small refinery.
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