Nairobi, Kenya — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 17 May 2011 – BG Group plc  and Dominion Petroleum Limited will lead two separate groups in oil exploration bids in Kenya, according to the East African nation’s commissioner of petroleum Martin Heya.

“Both groups are expected to obtain their licences for the blocks in Lamu by the end of the week,” Heya told a conference in the capital.

“By the end of this week, all things being equal, we shall have two companies” joining the ones that are already exploring in East Africa’s biggest economy,” he said.

Lamu, which is located in southeastern Kenya, has one offshore and eight onshore blocks that are available for exploration, Heya said. Cnooc Limited, China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, told the Kenyan government in October that it planned to drop licences to search for oil and gas in two Kenyan blocks by December.

The Chinese company worked with Africa Oil Corporation and Lion Energy Corporation to drill an exploratory well in block 9 in northern Kenya. It also had a license for block L2, an inland area in the Lamu basin.

While east Africa’s biggest economy has yet to strike oil or gas, the Kenyan government is confident, and a recent oil discovery in Uganda raised hopes that Kenya might yield similar reserves.

Neighbouring Tanzania also has natural gas deposits, some of which are already being used to generate electricity and to power industries.