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Low oil prices sees more interest in geothermal drilling in Kenya

Geothermal well at Menengai, Kenya (source: flickr/ ScientificDrilling)
Francisco Rojas 6 Feb 2015

The current low oil prices have made Atlas Development change shift and move into geothermal drilling in Kenya. They are currently working with GDC and have also partnered with Iceland Drilling

According to local news from Kenya, Atlas Development, a logistics and engineering services firm, will start drilling geothermal wells in Kenya as it diversifies from oil and gas sector slowed down by plummeting crude prices.

The company, listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), said Thursday it would bid for drilling of steam energy wells together with its partners.

“We are going to start drilling (geothermal wells) as well,” Nick Arnold, director East African region told the Press Thursday at the State Menengai geothermal project in Nakuru.

“We are better off diversifying our offering, especially now when things are slowing on the oil and gas front.”

Atlas is working with the Geothermal Development Company (GDC), the developer of Menengai wells, in the provision of civil engineering services, catering and accommodation.

This comes as Kenya increasingly turns to the renewable and cheaper geothermal energy that has helped cut fuel-cost charge and lowered electricity bills.

The country plans to add 5,000 megawatts to the national grid by the end of 2016 with geothermal power accounting for almost a third or 1,646 megawatts of this.

Atlas which has made Kenya its African headquarters currently offers civil engineering and construction, workforce accommodation, procurement, warehousing and equipment transportation.

Others are fuel distribution, fleet maintenance, catering and laundry services, medical and risk management services.

The firm’s diversification comes in the wake of falling global crude prices that have caused jitters amongst exploration firms. Its clients include Tullow Oil that has been prospecting for oil in Turkana.

Mr Arnold said the firm has already partnered with Iceland Drilling Ltd towards drilling steam wells in Baringo County.

“We will partner with other firms as well where we will bring in technical and engineering aspects,” he said.

The GDC looks to inject 105 megawatts of geothermal electricity into the grid by year end. It has successfully drilled 25 steam wells with Well 1A poised to produce 30.6 megawatts of power – the largest for a single well in Africa.

The Menengai geothermal belt has a potential of more than 600 megawatts.

Source: Business Daily Africa