Qatar has increased interest in Kenya’s fledgling upstream oil sector following the acquisition of oil blocks in Lamu by its national oil company.
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Qatar Petroleum has acquired a 25 per cent stake in three oil blocks from Italian firm Eni and French Major Total.
The blocks are located in offshore Lamu, where though little exploration work has been undertaken, the area has received positive reviews by international firms that have undertaken preliminary surveys.
The latest investment in the area is in addition to Qatar First Bank that owns two oil blocks through a local affiliate.
“Blocks L11A, L11B and L12 are located in water depths ranging between 1,000 and 2,700 metres, cover a total surface of about 15,000 square kilometres and hold high exploration potential,” said Eni in a statement following the signing of the exploration agreement.
“Eni and Total currently hold 55 per cent and 45 per cent interest share in the blocks respectively, with Eni acting as the operator. QP would acquire 25 per cent interest share in each of the blocks, of which 13.75 per cent from Eni and the remaining from Total.
Accordingly, the composition of the joint venture should become Eni 41.25 per cent, Total 33.75 per cent and QP 25 per cent.
”Qatar First Bank owns Lamu Oil and Gas L14 Ltd, Lamu Basin L14 Ltd, Lamu Basin L26 Ltd and Lamu Oil and Gas L26 Ltd which have been awarded exploration over the various offshore oil blocks.
The increased investments by the Qatari are despite exits by other oil firms, casting doubt on the viability of the emerging sector.
Among those that have relinquished oil blocks in Kenya in the recent past are Royal Dutch Shell that gave up its blocks L10A and L10B, and Africa Oil (which is a critical partner in the Lokichar blocks) that abandoned block 9.
Others have put on hold activities, citing different reasons such as insecurity in Lamu.Following the deal, Eni will remain the operator of the blocks, meaning it will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the blocks, including meeting of licence agreements and eventually drilling of exploratory wells.
Qatar Petroleum in a statement said the agreement is subject to regulatory approvals by the government of Kenya.
“We hope that the exploration efforts are successful, and we look forward to collaborating with our valuable partners Eni and Total, and the government of Kenya in these blocks,” said the Minister of State for Energy Affairs and Qatar Petroleum President and Chief Executive Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.
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