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Among its already diverse energy mix consisting of hydropower, geothermal and renewables; Kenya now intends to add natural gas to the mix.

Midway Resources International’s subsidiary Zarara Oil & Gas Ltd, has recently announced that it will soon start drilling two wells of natural gas after Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (Nema) approved environmental licences for well sinking on Pate Island off the coast in Lamu.

The East African reported that the energy ministry has set strict deadlines for the company to begin drilling Pate 2 by the end of the year and later Pate 3.

The deadlines set are in line with the government wanting to reduce the country’s dependence on expensive hydro and thermal power.

Natural gas to the mix

According to the East African, the licence granted to Zarara Oil & Gas will run until July 2019.

Geoffrey Wahungu, director general at Nema, said Zarara is required to undertake exploratory drilling at an estimated cost of $159 million.

The sinking of the Pate 2 well is expected to take 120 days to drill and Zarara confirmed to have started mobilising Greatwall Drilling Company Ltd’s drilling rig, which is already in the country.

North Sea Well Engineering Ltd of Norway is said to be the design and planning company.

Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are reported to have rolled out a programme to manage the expectations of the local community in Lamu to avoid the Pate project being abandoned by the investor.

Community training

KOGWG’s Network Co-ordinator Muturi Kamau said communities from Lamu and Pate Island are being informed about the benefits of Zarara’s exploration activities especially in generating electricity from the gas.

“The community is being trained on mitigating perceived risks and engaging in alternative dispute resolution mechanism to avoid confrontations as excess demands can scare away an investor,” said Kamau.

It is reported that Pate Marine Community Conservancy (PMCC) said they fear the livelihoods of farmers growing mangoes, maize, vegetables and coconuts could be affected by the drilling of natural gas wells.

PMCC chairman Mohammed Hussein said: “We are worried about what will happen to farmers whose land is next to the drilling site of the wells. A commercial discovery could affect the lifestyle of the people.” Read more…


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