PROSPECTS of the country becoming an oil producer are a notch better than previously envisaged following discovery of the commodity at Lake Albert in Uganda, which is along the East African Rift Valley where Lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa are located.
A Senior Legal Officer with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Raphael Mgaya said experts believe that it’s only a matter of time before such a discovery is made.
“The experts said the area in Kenya and Uganda where oil has been discovered is along the East African Rift Valley which we are part of hence the high hopes of striking oil as well,” Mgaya told an East African Oil and Gas Summit held in Dar es Salaam last week.
He said several companies are already exploring for oil in Lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa but also the Pangani Basin.Mgaya, who represented the country on a panel discussion relating to opportunities available in the country’s oil and gas sector, further noted that there is a lot of room to accommodate more oil and gas companies on Lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa but also along the Indian Ocean.
He said the country has also an immediate demand for investors to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the southern regions where over 50 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves have so far been discovered.
“We also need investors for a fertiliser plant that will use natural gas and the market for the product is readily available,” Mgaya argued, saying that the energy sector remains vibrant although a majority of the people have no access to electricity.
“Currently about 40 per cent of the population has access to electricity, which means there is a larger bigger population still in need of power supply,” he noted, saying that at 40 percent power access the country still has the highest population with access to power in the region.
Presenting the Kenyan package of opportunities, Ken Mugambi from National Oil Corporation said apart from having vast oil and gas potential along the Indian Ocean and north of the country, the country has the best qualified manpower in the region needed for productive work.
“But Kenya is also a financial hub of the region which for any investment to succeed needs to access,” Mugambi noted. He stressed that Nairobi has better infrastructure to support any kind of investment including oil and gas exploration and production which is a sophisticated discipline.
The Kenyans who have already struck oil in the north of the country are currently in a tussle with Tanzania and Uganda over construction of a 1,400 kilometres oil pipeline project from Lake Albert to Tanga port.
The Kenyans have discovered over 600 million barrels of oil reserve while Uganda has a jackpot of over 6.5 billion barrels which Kampala wants to ship to the global market through Tanga port.
But Kenya is pressing Uganda with which it had signed a memorandum of understanding in August last year but which was overturned last month when Presidents Yoweri Museveni and John Magufuli signed an impromptu MoU during the East Africa Community (EAC) summit.
Apart from the distance from Lake Albert to Kenyan port of Lamu, Kampala is also concerned by insecurity being posed by Somali terror group, Al Shabaab which has launched several attacks inside Kenya killing hundreds of people and destroying property in the past five years.
The East African Rift Valley starts from Lake Nyasa to Rukwa and Tanganyika going through Lake Victoria to Albert to northern Kenya.