Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) has begun drilling the first geothermal well at the Aluto site for Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP) company.
This sets into motion Phase II of the $70.4 million contract. KenGen’s managing director and chief executive officer, Rebecca Miano, through a statement, said the works began over the last weekend in May. “The exercise started on Saturday, 29 May 2021, whereby the first hole section was drilled to 29 metres within eight hours. So far, drilling operations are running smoothly as the team moves to the next hole section. Drilling a single well takes about two months to complete. We however hope to shorten this period despite the prevailing circumstances brought about by Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” she said.
According to Miano, within the next three weeks the company will mobilize specialized drilling services crew including aerated drillers, directional drillers, and reservoir engineers to ensure the project is a success.
Former EEP CEO Abraham Belay said they were optimistic KenGen would be able to drill the projected number of wells. “What is more exciting is the fact that KenGen is also building the capacity of our people and eventually, we will also be able to manage geothermal equipment and run the power plants after the company exits the sites,” said Belay.
He revealed that Ethiopia’s quest for geothermal energy spans over four decades as the country had tried to venture into geothermal development as far back as 1981. With KenGen’s entry into the country, Ethiopia is now staring at a geothermal generation breakthrough.
The move by KenGen to commence Phase II of the project follows the completion of Phase I of the contract by the consortium partners under which two rigs were delivered to the site. Phase I entailed the purchase of drilling rigs, while Phase II entails the provision of drilling services. KenGen is supplying about 30% of the components of Phase II, which translates to about $6.2 million.
Under this project, which is financed by the World Bank through a loan to the Ethiopian government, a total of eight wells will be drilled in Lot 1 using two rigs with expected revenue of $6.2 million. Each rig is expected to drill four wells within a period of one year.
Depending on the outcome of Lot 1 wells, an additional 12 wells may be drilled under Lot 2, bringing the total to 20 wells.