A member of the prospecting firm crew, Amos Mutua, at work in Bassa, Isiolo County. Kenya has marked out eight new offshore oil blocks to be opened up for leasing by exploration firms, senior energy ministry officials said on Friday

Exploration interest in Kenya and its neighbours has increased after oil deposits were found in Uganda and natural gas in Tanzania and Mozambique. At least five oil companies are already jostling for the new blocks, which Kenya had initially expected to list in the Kenya Gazette by the end of February, but delays arose due to errors while surveying the blocks.

Their listing in the weekly government publication makes it legal for them to be leased out for exploration. France’s Total, Norway’s Statoil, Brazil’s Petrobras, New York-listed Apache Corporation and UK’s Tullow Oil Plc had expressed interest in the blocks, a government official said.

“The companies specified they wanted deepwater offshore blocks,” Alfred Odawa, a consultant geologist at the energy ministry, told Reuters. The blocks will be to the east of existing ones off the coast of Kenya, and will bring the total number of exploration blocks to 46.

— Reuters

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