Australian oil exploration firm Pancontinental Oil and Gas on Wednesday confirmed a verified oil found at one of its completed wells in the coastal region of Kenya.
In a statement, the firm said the Sunbird-1 well, completed in March in area L10A, intersected a gross 29.6 m gas column overlying a gross 14 m oil column in the Sunbird Reef.
"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," Pancontinental CEO Barry Rushworth said in a statement.
"Now that we know there is a prospective oil system in the Lamu Basin and 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," he added.
Rushworth said oil and gas samples have been recovered and analyzed using sophisticated geochemical techniques. The Sunbird Reef is an ancient Miocene pinnacle reef buried beneath approximately 900 m of younger sediment.
The Kenya L10A consortium consists of BG Group, operator, with 50 percent working interest; PTTEP with 31.25 percent working interest, and Pancontinental with 18.75 percent working interest.
Sunbird-1 is the first ever test of a Miocene Pinnacle Reef offshore East Africa, and the first ever exploration well in L10A in the Lamu Basin offshore Kenya.
An extensive trend of Miocene Reefs is evident in Pancontinental's four licence areas offshore southern Kenya, with Sunbird-1 regarded as a tight hole exploration well.
According to the Australian firm, the results are highly significant because they are the first proof of the presence of a prospective offshore oil system in the Lamu Basin.
"Pancontinental Oil and Gas is pleased to advise 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," it said.
The oil and gas have been geochemically typed in detail and the prospective source rocks have been dated and characterized for use in future exploration.
"It is the only offshore oil column ever reported seaward of the eastern coast.. from South Africa to 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," Rushworth said.
Pancontinental has three exploration areas in the Lamu Basin covering a total area of about 15,000 sq km.
The operator of the Block L10A Petroleum Sharing Contract, BG Group, is continuing to analyze the well data and will recommend a future exploration program using the well results.
The East African margin has become a focus of the global oil and gas exploration and production industry.