Skip to main content

First-ever oil column discovered offshore East Africa

Oilfield Technology,

Pancontinental Oil and Gas NL is pleased to announce that, after lengthy analysis, it has been verified that the recently completed Sunbird-1 well off the southern Kenyan coast has intersected an oil column – the first-ever oil discovered off the East African coast.

The gross oil column is assessed to be 14 m thick beneath a gross gas column of 29.6 m in a reefal limestone reservoir in the Sunbird Miocene Pinnacle Reef in area L10A.

The corresponding net values are 9.2 m for the oil zone and 28.3 m for the gas zone. The net values are calculated for the reservoir using cut-offs of 10% porosity (Phi) and 50% shale volume (Vsh). Oil and gas samples have been recovered and analysed using sophisticated geochemical techniques.

The Sunbird Reef is an ancient Miocene pinnacle reef buried beneath approximately 900 m of younger sediment.

First proof of the presence of oil in the Lamu Basin

Pancontinental believes the results are highly significant because they are the first proof of the presence a prospective oil system in the Lamu Basin offshore Kenya. 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.

Analysis of the Sunbird results has been complicated by the loss of drilling mud, seawater and remedial cement pumped into the limestone reservoir during drilling operations.

Pancontinental has an 18.75% interest in the well and block L10A. Pancontinental has three extensive exploration areas in this highly prospective Basin covering a total area of approximately 15 000 km2, including L10A.

The detailed oil and gas geochemical data, which are confidential to the L10A Joint Venture partners, give the age and type of the oil source rocks, as well as other crucial data that Pancontinental believes places the L10A Joint Venture in a leading position to find commercial oil offshore Kenya. The operator of the Block L10A Petroleum Sharing Contract, BG Group, is continuing to analyse the well data and will recommend a future exploration programme using the well results.

Map of location.

Significant increase in industry interest offshore Kenya expected

Pancontinental’s Chief Executive Officer Barry Rushworth said the implications of the Sunbird-1 well results for regional oil exploration were truly outstanding.

“The Sunbird-1 oil is the historic first-ever oil discovery offshore Kenya,” Mr Rushworth said. “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 northwest tip of Somalia.

“We believe that this is a play-opening discovery in Kenya’s Lamu Basin. Because of the Sunbird discovery we expect to see a significant increase in industry interest offshore Kenya.

“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’s blocks offshore Kenya all contain Miocene Reefs, as well as numerous other types of geological targets.

“The Sunbird oil discovery has allowed us to geochemically type the oil source rocks, allowing the Joint Venture to effectively plan the way ahead for further oil exploration”.

Map of locations and leads.

Future exploration

The L10A joint venture is considering the details of follow-up exploration activities after the Sunbird-1 oil discovery.

L10A covers a variety of play types, prospects and leads. Many of the prospects have been mapped using the two 3D seismic surveys carried out by the joint venture. The Sunbird Prospect is one of an inboard cluster of Miocene reefs. Outboard prospects include Tertiary and Cretaceous channels, large anticlinal complexes and Cretaceous and Tertiary fault-bounded prospects.

Other offshore Kenyan activity includes an exploration well to be drilled by Anadarko, as recently announced for later in 2014.

The Kenya L10A consortium consists of: BG Group (Operator, 50%), PTTEP (31.25%) and Pancontinental (18.75%).

Pancontinental has said that it has increased its interest in licence L10B, immediately to the south of L10A. The increase in interest is subject to the completion of documentation; however Ministerial approval has already been given. The Kenya L10B consortium now consists of BG Group (Operator, 75%) and Pancontinental (25%).

Adapted from press release by Cecilia Rehn

Read the article online at:


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):