* East Africa has become new frontier for oil discoveries
* Kenya plans joint pipeline with Uganda, South Sudan
By George Obulutsa
NAIROBI, April 24 British explorer Tullow Oil
and partner Africa Oil Corp aim to submit
development plans to the Kenyan government late next year for
their oil discovery in the northwest of the country, executives
from the firms said on Tuesday.
Oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya by Tullow Oil and gas
deposits found off Tanzania and Mozambique have turned east
Africa into a frontier for hydrocarbon exploration.
In an update in January, Tullow and Africa Oil
doubled the estimate of their discoveries in Kenya's
South Lokichar basin to 600 million barrels.
Since then Tullow has said the Kenyan government has become
more focused on early development of Kenya's first oil discovery
and project approval is expected in 2015 or 2016.
Tullow said it plans extensive appraisal drilling and
testing this year and next.
"We are expecting to submit our field development plans to
the government in the fourth quarter of 2015," Robin Sutherland,
Tullow Oil's exploration manager for sub-Saharan Africa, told an
oil and gas conference in Nairobi.
Discussions were under way on who will lead the development
of a pipeline to transport the crude oil to Lamu on the Kenyan
coast, he said.
Kenya's plans for oil production have moved fast since
Tullow and Africa Oil's discovery of the South Lokichar basin
was announced in March 2012.
In contrast, neighbouring Uganda struck hydrocarbon deposits
in the Albertine rift basin in 2006 but commercial production
has been delayed due to wrangling with oil firms over Uganda's
plans for a refinery and other factors and is not expected until
2016 at the earliest. The oil reserves are estimated at 3.5
In a speech read on his behalf at the conference, Kenya's
Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir said the
government was in the process of soliciting expressions of
interest for the pipeline in three segments.
The three sections will be from Hoima in Uganda, linking to
Lokichar, from South Sudan to Lokichar, and from Lokichar to
Lamu, he said.
James Phillips, vice president for business development at
Africa Oil Corporation, said the discoveries in the Lokichar
Basin so far had already met the minimum amount of oil required
for commercial development, and they were confident the figures
would rise further.
"Commercial threshold resources have been exceeded in the
South Lokichar Basin. We know we have exceeded the commercial
threshold and that it is going to get higher and higher," he
(Editing by James Macharia and Susan Fenton)