KenGen rigs to cut cost of geothermal drilling

The Olkaria II Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha. The Kenya’s Geothermal Development Company is drilling 10 wellsnew wells over the next in the Olkaria area to generate steam that will add an extra 140MW (megawatts) into the national grid. Photo/ Jack Owuor
The Olkaria II Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha. The Kenya’s Geothermal Development Company is drilling 10 wellsnew wells over the next in the Olkaria area to generate steam that will add an extra 140MW (megawatts) into the national grid. Photo/ Jack Owuor

Electricity producer KenGen expects

to cut the cost of drilling for geothermal

steam by 41.67 per cent after acquiring

three more rigs, raising hopes

of a drop in power bills in coming

years.

The new equipment, geothermal

resources development manager

Peketsa Mangi said, will save the Nairobi

Securities Exchange-listed firm

millions of shillings it has been spending

to hire rigs.

He said the cost of drilling wells is

likely to fall to $3.5 million (Sh358.05

million) from $6 million (Sh613.80

million).

“This is a drop of around 40 per cent

in terms of cost, and this is a boost in

accessing more geothermal power

which is more reliable and affordable

compared to hydro or thermal,” Mangi

said.

He said the high amount is to

blame for the slow pace of developing

geothermal power resources, with

the country’s potential estimated at

10,000 megawatts.

“We currently have 287 geothermal

wells in Olkaria, and with the acquisition

of the rigs we expect we will be

doing at least five wells every year,”

Mangi said in Naivasha.

Two of the rigs have the capacity to

drill wells that are between five and

seven kilometres deep.

“The two rigs will drill vertically

while the third rig can drill 2.5km. We

expect to increase the number of wells

and geothermal generated through

them,” he said.

On geothermal exploration, Mangi

noted that works on the 140MW Olkaria

V power plant will kick off early

next year.

“The project, which is funded by

JICA, will not interfere with the nearby

communities. It’s part of the government

plans to increase the amount of

power generated from geothermal,” he said.

The manager said plans are underway

to feed the national grid 292MW

between 2018 and 2019, with projections

of 2,500MW by 2025.

“Currently geothermal is contributing

1,632MW to the national grid and

this is set to increase in the coming

years due to the commitment by the

government and development partners,”

Mangi said.

The geothermal manager noted that

geothermal contributes 51 per cent of

power used in the country.