East Africa an Exploration Hotspot


The entire margin was abandoned in the early eighties as West Africa’s Nigerian and Angolan finds and North Africa’s Libya and Egyptian reserves were further developed. Then followed a period of exploration near to these hotspots, such as the Gulf of Guinea and East Africa remained off the map. This now all changing.

Woodside plan to drill on their new Kenyan seismic in Q4 2006, Tanzania has held a successful third round; gas is being piped from Songo Songo to generate electricity in Dar; Heritage have made oil discoveries in the Albertine Graben, Uganda; PETRONAS have acquired an extensive 2D grid offshore Zambezi ahead of their drilling campaign; Vanco with partners Hydro and EXXONMOBIL have collected the first ever 3D in East Africa.

The neglect persisted throughout the late eighties and nineties as exploration departments continued to shrink and ‘near field exploration’ became the norm. More revenue from production only compounded this phenomenon. The higher the oil price the greater the problem. This coupled with share buy back and a raft of takeovers led to further retrenchment.

However new oil is required and new markets are growing fast. The ‘other side of the pond’, is now Asia.

A review of the oil and gas occurrences along the margin of East Africa reveals considerable potential. When viewed collectively and analysed in a consistent manner, early myths regarding isolated pods of source rock with only gas potential at best can be dismissed. Ample new and existing evidence for a regional and robust source rock can be demonstrated both from the oil extract data and source rocks themselves.

Early drilling was undertaken on topographic highs, gravity data and at best poor seismic. Wells were often drilled over balance and/or with oil based mud, consequently the wells are not optimally sited and information lost. East Africa should not be judged on these results.

The modern seismic is in the deep water and the older seismic and poorer quality is onshore and in the coastal regions. Newly reprocessed seismic demonstrate that areas neglected early on contain features and structures perhaps overlooked due to acquisition and processing techniques of the time. It is time not only to investigate the deeper water, but to revisit the shallower water acreage with the new seismic processing and new petroleum geochemistry techniques. Chris Matchette-Downes 15/1/5

For details contact Chris Matchette Downes


MDOIL Limited, Marlow, England,

MDOIL Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 05275394






To develop under explored petroleum systems