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Kenya Navy blamed for delay in offshore oil exploration

BUSINESS
By By Joseph Masha | July 3rd 2013

By Joseph Masha 

MOMBASA, KENYA: A British oil exploration company says it has invested Sh3.6 billion in off shore oil exploration in the Indian Ocean but failure to deploy the Kenya Navy is delaying its operations.

Orphir-Energy received is exploratory licence in 2011 and its officials say it has faced challenges, including lack of navy escorts in the deep sea where piracy is rife.

 “A delay by the government of Kenya to deploy the Kenya navy, the threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean which unfortunately has become occupational hazard here in East Africa” are some of the challenges mentioned in a report by the firm seen by the Standard in Kilifi.

The document states that weather during the seismic campaign and winds have also hampered operations.

On Wednesday, the firm’s public relations officer Elizabeth Kiarie said according to the terms of the 2011 licence, the Kenya government was to “offer security agents for personnel [involved in prospection] but unfortunately deployment of the navy officers has been delayed.”

Orphir-Energy which is an upstream oil and gas company has planned to explore the oil in a period of six years to be covered in three phases.

Kiarie told the Standard on Wednesday that that the exploration covering 7441.09 square kilometers has been split into two blocks.

She said the first block categorized as L9 will cover 5110.06square kilometers located between Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

The other block L15 covers 2331.03 square kilometers in the off shore waters of Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu counties along the Kenyan coastal Indian Ocean waters.

She spoke at Rima Rapera Primary school in Ganze District of Kilifi County where the company donated Sh8 million for the construction of five modern classrooms.

Accompanied by the company managing director Mr Martin Keen and deputy governor for Kilifi county Mr Kenneth Kamto, Kairie said environment and social impact assessments carried out in the last quarter of last year showed the exploration had no negative effects.

The assessment covered areas of marine biodiversity, waste management and pollution, noise and vibration, water and air quality and also assessed health, safety and security, visual impact and social economic issues, according to Kiarie.

“The environmental and social effects were taken care of as the environment and social impact assessment were conducted before a license to  survey the availability of the oil deposits was issued to the company by the ministry of Energy,” said Kiarie.

According to Kiarie said the first two year phase involved the initial exploration to establish the possibility of fuel deposits.

She said the second phase will expand the first exploration work while the final stage study the findings of the first two phases.

She then announced that it is too early to declare fuel finds as the “exploration of the oil in the off shore line of the Kenyan ocean waters is still on the survey work category and is not true that the oil deposits have been discovered”.

Kiarie said offshore exploration of oil is expensive and risky requiring immense financial and technical investment with no guaranteed returns.

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