Pancontinental said analysis has shown there is a 14-metre thick oil column beneath a 29.6-metre column of gas in the ‘Sunbird-1’ zone. According to the company, the results are “first proof” that a prospective oil system is present in the Lamu Basin and is “expected to lead to a significant increase in industry interest offshore Kenya”.

Pancontinental’s chief executive officer Barry Rushworth said: “The Sunbird-1 oil is the historic first-ever oil discovery offshore Kenya. Furthermore, it is the only offshore oil column ever reported seaward of the eastern coastal margin of the African continent, from South Africa to the north-west tip of Somalia.”

Rushworth said: “We encountered a thick and effective seal over the top of the reef, which was an initial risk for us, and the regional follow-on implications of this are truly significant. Porosity, permeability and seal for the reservoir were all better than Pancontinental expected. Now that we know there is a prospective oil system in the Lamu Basin and we know the important technical details, we are in a prime position to explore for larger volumes of oil over our very extensive portfolio of prospects and leads.”

Pancontinental said: “The oil and gas have been geochemically typed in detail and the prospective source rocks have been dated and characterised for use in future exploration. Calculating the Sunbird results (in the area designated ‘L10A’) has been a lengthy process due to the complexity of the data derived from the well.”

Pancontinental has interests in three exploration licences offshore Kenya: L10A, L10B and L6. The company has an 18.75% stake in the well and joint venture block L10A. L10A and L10B have respective areas of 4,962.03 square kilometres and 5,585.35 sq km and water depths of 200 to 1,900 metres.

L6 is the northernmost of Pancontinental’s three areas offshore Kenya, covering 5,010 sq km with about one quarter onshore and the remaining offshore to 400m water depth.

Pancontinental has a 40% interest in the offshore section of licence L6, 16% in the onshore portion and 25% in L10B. Partners in these three Kenyan licences (although not in each licence) are British energy producer BG Group, Thai state-owned petroleum exploration and production company PTTEP, and the Africa focused oil and gas explorer FAR Limited.

The detailed oil and gas geochemical data, which is confidential to the joint venture partners, give the age and type of the oil source rocks, as well as other data that Pancontinental believes places the L10A joint venture in a “leading position” to find commercial oil offshore Kenya.

The Kenya Investment Authority’s ‘Kenya Economic Survey 2014’ (47-page / 1.96 MB PDF) said recent discoveries of petroleum oil and natural gas “are likely to trigger more foreign direct investment inflows”.

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