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Kenya starts oil exploration in the disputed maritime area with Somalia

Kenya has started oil exploration in the Lamu Basin wells, the disputed maritime area with Somalia.

After rejecting a verdict in a four-decade maritime dispute with Somalia, Kenya increased oil and gas drilling in the Lamu Basin.

ENI Kenya Business Venture, previously Agip, began drilling at the Mlima-1 well, commonly known as Block L11B, last month, according to petroleum commissioner James Ng’ang’a.

This comes after seismic surveys revealed that the area had oil and gas potential. 

In two months, the business plans to announce the deposit results of the block’s economic viability.

“The spudding of the well was conducted on December 28, 2021, and is expected to last for two months,” Ng’ang’a said.

Ng’ang’a added that the country will abandon the venture if the well is not viable at the end of the drilling and mining assessment within 60 days.

Kenya has been mapping for oil and gas deposits in the Lamu Basin despite a border row over the area with Somalia.

The basin runs from Kenya’s border with Somalia to Tanzania’s border, and Kenya is relying on its size to secure oil production wells.

The basin, however, is located within disputed Somalia territory, which has resulted in a diplomatic disagreement between the two countries.

In August 2014, Somalia filed a petition with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a 100,000-square-kilometer coastal zone that is thought to contain oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits.

Nairobi accused Somalia of auctioning oil exploration rights in the disputed maritime zone in the Indian Ocean.

Last year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the country would not give up even an inch of the disputed territory.

The government rejected the judgment on the maritime dispute in its entirety and accused the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of prejudice.

Kenya sought permission and expertise from the United Nations in 2016 to map out its territorial waters in order to access the oil, natural gas, and mineral treasures estimated to reside beneath the Indian Ocean seabed.

However, in October, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided in Somalia’s favor, rejecting Kenya’s assertion that the two nations had previously agreed on a maritime boundary, and instead drew a line that divided the disputed area into two.

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