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KenGen surpasses 450 Metres geothermal drilling

Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) has surpassed a crucial stage in the ongoing Sh 679,520 million (USD 6.2 million) geothermal drilling contract in Ethiopia.

This gives impetus to its corporate diversification strategy as the KenGen engineers have so far crossed the 450 meters of drilling depth of the first of eight geothermal wells for the state-owned electricity producer, Ethiopia Electric Power Company which commenced in May this year amid COVID-19.

In a press release today, Managing Director and CEO Rebecca Miano says that the first 450 meters is the most difficult phase of the entire geothermal well drilling process which can go up to a depth of 3,000 meters.

“This particular one is being done under peculiar circumstances including unforeseen delays occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said adding that they will be drilling at a rate of about 50 meters per day going forward and therefore expect to complete the remaining part on schedule in about two months.

In February 2019, KenGen won a joint contract with Shandong Kerui Petroleum Equipment Company and Shandong Kerui Oilfield Service Group to offer geothermal drilling services. The project is being managed between the two consortium members under the contract.

According to Miano, the progress of drilling at Aluto-Langano is remarkable, and she was optimistic the team will deliver it within the set timelines.

“We commend our team for surpassing the 450 metres depth of drilling, overcoming all the challenges usually encountered at the initial stages of drilling a geothermal well,” said Miano.

She noted that the team of experts comprised of aerated drillers, directional drillers, and reservoir engineers are actively working on the project and that they have also dispatched a team to mobilize a second rig to fast track the process and achieve the goal of drilling eight wells much faster.

“The drilling of the second geothermal well under the Aluto-Langano project started early this week and was at a depth of 36 meters by Wednesday August 18, 2021,” she said.

The undergoing project is financed by the World Bank through a loan to the Ethiopian Government and depending on the outcomes of Lot 1 wells, an additional 12 wells may be drilled under Lot 2 of the contract to bring the total to 20 wells.

The MD says that also in the Horn of Africa, under a contract signed in October 2019, KenGen has completed drilling two geothermal wells for Tulu Moye Geothermal Operations PLC (TMGO) in Ethiopia and is currently drilling the third well.

These two projects are hinged on the Company’s diversification strategy which has led to the organization’s expansion in the Horn of Africa. Besides Ethiopia, KenGen has also secured a Ksh.709 million project to offer commercial drilling services in Djibouti.

In February this year, the company signed the contract with Office Djiboutien De Développement De l’énergie Géothermique (Djiboutian Office of Geothermal Energy Development) (ODDEG). KenGen is also prospecting for similar businesses in Rwanda.

Kenya is Africa’s largest geothermal energy producer and among the top 10 in the world. The country has an estimated potential of 10,000MW along the Rift Valley.

As per Today, KenGen PLC has an installed generation capacity of 1,818MW, of which over 86 per cent is drawn from green sources namely: Hydro (826MW), Geothermal (713MW), Thermal (253MW), and Wind (26MW).

By Wangari Ndirangu

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