Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) says it has surpassed a crucial stage in the ongoing USD 6.2 million geothermal drilling contracts in Ethiopia.
According to the firm’s Managing Director and CEO Rebecca Miano, a team of 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.
“The first 450 meters is the most difficult phase of the entire geothermal well drilling process which can go upto a depth of 3,000 meters,” Miano said.
“This particular one is being done under peculiar circumstances including unforeseen delays occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.
The CEO added 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.
“We are glad that the progress of drilling at Aluto-Langano is remarkable, and optimistic our 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 added: “We have a team of experts comprised of aerated drillers, directional drillers, and reservoir engineers actively working on this project and have also dispatched a team to mobilize a second rig to fast track the process and achieve our 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.
KenGen is hopeful that under the ongoing project, which is financed by the World Bank through a loan to the Ethiopian Government, depending on the outcomes of Lot 1 wells, an additional 12 wells may be drilled under Lot 2 of the contact to bring the total to 20 wells.
At the same time, 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 Sh709 million project to offer commercial drilling services in Djibouti.
In February this year, the company signed the contract with Office Djiboutien De Development De lenergie Geothermique (Djiboutian Office of Geothermal Energy Development) (ODDEG). KenGen is also prospecting for similar businesses in Rwanda.
More geothermal plants
The milestone comes at a time when the energy producer has announced that it wants to install new geothermal power plants with a capacity of up to 682 megawatts (mw) in the next four years.
As quoted by Business Daily, the firm says the planned plants are in line with its geothermal expansion program that will see it achieve its targeted installed power generation capacity— mostly from green sources— to 2,500mw by 2025.
As such, KenGen will have to increase its installed capacity by 27.3 percent or 682.18mw from the current 1,817.82mw in the next four years and sees geothermal power as the favourable route to achieving this.
The firm’s installed green energy sources that includes geothermal hydro and wind currently stand at 1,564.32 mw. This includes hydro (825.69 MW), geothermal (713.13mw), wind (25.5mw).
The planned new projects carry the potential to give geothermal the largest share in its energy mix.
Already, KenGen has 253.5mw of thermal energy for stabilising the grid.
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.