Following a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta to expedite exportation of Kenya’s first oil, Tullow Oil Company has confirmed that it will begin oil production from Turkana County in northwestern Kenya in March next year.

Briefing the president at State House Nairobi Wednesday, Tullow Oil Chief Operating Officer Paul McDade said the London-headquartered company had made good progress and would be ready to start exporting oil in June 2017.

The oil would be transported by road from Lokichar in Turkana County to the port of Mombasa about 1,100 kilometres away in southeastern Kenya, from where it will be exported. Initially, 2,000 barrels will be produced per day, McDade said, adding that Tullow Oil was committed to aggressive exploration which would see at least eight more wells drilled in North Lokichar to scale up production.

“This will take the mean recoverable resources to over a billion barrels from the current estimated 750 million barrels,” McDade said.

Energy Cabinet Secretary (Minister) Charles Keter said the construction of a pipeline to transport oil from Lokichar to Lamu Port, a distance of almost 1,290 km was still on track.

He said the government and its upstream partners — Tullow Oil, African Oil and Maersk — had concluded a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) for the development of the pipeline.

President Kenyatta emphasized the need to move with speed in the implementation of the pipeline project. “We have started and we are not moving back. We want to be at the top of the pile. So, we have set a path and by 2019, Kenya is going to be a major oil producer and exporter,” the president said.

The meeting was also attended by the Department of Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau, Tullow Oil Vice-President and East Africa Regional Manager Gary Thompson and Country Manager Martin Mbogo.