Tullow is preparing for exploratory drilling  in the the Kerio Valley belt in Elgeyo Marakwet county before end of the year, its official said in an email. The British oil exploration and production firm said it has conducted seismic surveys in Block 12A, part of which falls in Elgeyo Marakwet, and will now be moving to the next stage of drilling in the fourth quarter of this year.

“The Cheptuket well is the first well to be drilled in Elgeyo Marakwet, and data gathered from this well will be useful in establishing whether or not there are hydrocarbon deposits in Elgeyo Marakwet,” senior communication advisor Mercy Kabangi said in an email response.

“If the well proves successful, Tullow will drill a number of other exploration wells to better understand the find and possibly move on to the appraisal stage and other subsequent phases,” she added.

Oil exploration companies do seismic surveys to help them narrow down the search to leads or areas with high potential for hydrocarbons.

If oil is encountered they then conduct appraisal drilling and extended well test to ascertain the volume of the discovery and whether it is commercially viable.

“Until Tullow does the actual drilling, we are not able to ascertain the presence or lack of oil in Elgeyo Marakwet,” she said.

The firm’s has struck oil resource in excess 600 million barrels in Lokichar basin of Turkana county.

“Elgeyo Marakwet has oil and we expect investors to start heading this way after Tullow makes the announcement in a few months,” governor Alex Tolgos said in Eldoret last week.

The drilling will be happening at a time when global oil prices have fallen to lows of less than $50 a barrel. Tullow had said in 2014 it would increase exploration resources to producing assets and commercialization of existing discoveries in West and East Arica despite the challenging market conditions.

“In Turkana, Tullow is currently appraising the resources which have been discovered while putting together a draft final investment decision for submission to the Government by the end of the year,” she said.