First Kenyan Oil Production Seen by 2019

NAIROBI - Kenya could be six years away from becoming Africa's latest oil producing nation, the International Monetary Fund said in a recent report, though the company leading the country's exploration efforts cautioned it is still too early to predict when commercial output will begin.

"Kenya expects to start producing oil in six to seven years," the International Monetary Fund said in a review of the country's macroeconomic outlook released April 30.

Big oil discoveries in Kenya's northern Turkana region--one in early 2012 and another in May--have raised hopes of the East African nation joining Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique as the continent's newest energy heavyweights.

However, the company that made the finds, London-listed wildcatter Tullow Oil PLC, said more wells would need to be drilled before any assurances could be made about when commercial production could start.

"I have seen the IMF report but would stress that we are still at the early stages of exploration in Kenya," said Tullow Oil spokesman George Cazenove.

"While the exploration so far has been very successful, we have only drilled three wells so any projections of when commercial oil might flow are premature," said Mr. Cazenove.

Tullow's success has whetted the appetite of other major foreign oil companies, the IMF said in its report.

"Out of 46 blocks made available by the Minister for Energy under the Petroleum Act, 45 have been licensed to 23 international oil companies," the IMF said.

Norway's Statoil ASA and U.K. heavyweight BG Group PLC are two of the biggest firms currently exploring in the region.

"The companies are at different stages of exploration, and the productive capacity of two oil wells is currently being assessed," said the report.

Kenya will be helped by the IMF to re-draft its rules for regulating the sectors, the organization said in its review.


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