Kenya is inching closer to a billion barrels of oil find in the Lokichar basin in South Turkana amid stalling plans for early oil from June.

British explorer Tullow yesterday announced it has discovered 25 metres of net oil pay at a depth of 700 metres in Erut-1 well in oil-rich Block 13T.

“This means that we have drilled vertically through 25 metres of rock that is holding oil. We cannot yet extrapolate exactly how much oil that is, but it’s very encouraging,” Tullow Kenya said in a statement.

The new find, the firm said, indicates its plan to achieve a target of more than a billion barrels in the Lokichar basin was on track. Kenya’s recoverable oil reserves are estimated at 750 million barrels in blocks 13T and 10B.

The blocks are owned by Tullow Oil of Britain ( 50 per cent), while Canadian explorer Africa Oil and business conglomerate Maersk of Denmark hold a 25 per cent stake each.

“This discovery is very significant and shows us that oil has migrated to the very northern part of the South Lokichar basin [the Northern Triangle] which has been underexplored thus far,” Tullow said.

“This was a wildcat well and not an appraisal well, so to find oil here is very encouraging indeed for the wider prospectivity of the basin and the rest of our exploration and appraisal campaign.”

Erut-1 well was drilled 10 kilometres north of Etom-2 well where Tullow struck 102 metres of net oil pay in two columns after drilling 1,655 metres deep in December 2015.

“Erut-1 successfully shows that oil has migrated to the northern limit of the South Lokichar basin and has de-risked multiple prospects in this area which will now be considered in the partnership’s future exploration and appraisal drilling programme,” Tullow said.

Last August the firm said it was ready to start producing 2,000 barrels of oil in March for export from June.

The crude will be transported by road with tenders for trucking services having been floated on October 14 last year.

This was after the planned railway transportation from Eldoret to Mombasa was abandoned after the deal with Rift Valley Railways failed.

Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau on October 7 last year said the ministry plans to spend up to Sh1.5 billion to refurbish the dormant Kenya Petroleum Refineries in Mombasa to handle waxy crude oil from Lokichar Basin for export.

“This is an exciting discovery from a bold exploration well that proves that oil has migrated to the northern limit of the South Lokichar basin,” Tullow Oil exploration director Angus McCoss said of the new find. Following the scheduled appraisal wells at Amosing-6 and Ngamia-10, further exploration drilling of this area is now being planned.”