Banner 4
Select another country

Kenya has no known oil or natural gas reserves, although the government had spent US$1.6 million on oil exploration by 2000. Demand for oil in Kenya is quite small due to the country’s underdeveloped economy, which is heavily dependent on labor intensive and rain-fed agriculture systems. The domestic demand for various petroleum fuels on average stands at 2.5 million tons per year, all of it imported from the Gulf region, either as crude oil for processing at the Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited or as refined petroleum products.

The oil refinery in Mombasa, built in 1959 and half-owned by the government, and major oil companies, typically operates at around 65% of its total capacity (averaging 95,000 barrels per day) and is supposed to serve Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and offshore islands. The Kenyan government is encouraging foreign interest in oil exploration and there is a modest upstream oil industry. It is endowed with other energy sources including wood fuel, coal, solar and wind power, much of which is untapped. The country's commercial energy needs are supplied by electricity, coal, fuel wood and oil-derived product

Kenya deregulated its oil industry in 1994. Refinery products include gasoline, jet/turbo fuel, light diesel oil and fuel oil. The refinery's future is an important domestic issue in Kenya, and management is considering upgrading the facility rather than allowing the refinery to close. Kenya also has an oil refinery that processes imported crude petroleum into petroleum products, mainly for the domestic market.

Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya; the latest in a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's rapidly expanding economy. The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC Ltd, to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in coastal waters. Reports from oil and gas industry in Kenya have confirmed that 7 new oil fields have been mapped in southern areas of Kenya.

In the first quarter of 2010, China's CNOOC discovered unconfirmed but significant quantities of natural gas in North Eastern Kenya. An ongoing assessment will determine whether the gas quantities are commercially viable before a formal announcement is made.

Petroleum Law & Legislation

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was established as an Energy Sector Regulator under the Energy Act, 2006 in July 2007. ERC is a single sector regulatory agency, with responsibility for economic and technical regulation of electric power, renewable energy, and downstream petroleum sub-sectors, including tariff setting and review, licensing, enforcement, dispute settlement and approval of power purchase and network service contracts.

Oil & Gas Companies

The Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited, Kenya Pipeline Company Limited, National Oil Corporation of Kenya and Kenya Railways Corporation represent the government‘s presence in the petroleum industry. The Kenya Pipeline Company Limited, Kenya Railways Corporation and private transporters are involved in transportation of petroleum products from Mombasa to other parts of the country and neighboring countries.

National Oil Corporation of Kenya Limited was incorporated in 1981 under the Companies Act (Cap 486). The company's main objective then was to coordinate oil exploration (upstream) activities. In 1988 the company was mandated on behalf of the government to supply 30% of the country's crude oil requirements that would in turn be sold to oil marketing companies for refining and onward sale to consumers.

Some of the notable oil and gas companies in Kenya are:

  • National Oil
  • Dana Petroleum
  • Gippsland Offshore Petroleum
  • Global Petroleum
  • Origin Energy
  • Pancontinental Oil and Gas
  • Repsol YPF SA
  • TamOil
  • Woodside Petrolium

Key Figures

  • Oil production: 0 bbl/day(2008)
  • Oil Consumption: 75,000 bbl/day(2008)
  • Oil Exports: 7,270 bbl/day(2007)
  • Oil Imports: 80,530 bbl/day(2007)
  • Oil Proved Reserves:0 bbl (2009)
  • Natural Gas Production: 0 cu m(2008)
  • Natural Gas Consumption: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Exports: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Imports: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Proved Reserves: 0 cu m(2009)

Back to top>