Advances in computing technology is one of the contributing factors which has led to the discovery of oil deposits in East Africa and Kenya in particular.
This is because success in oil exploration largely depends on the interpretation of information gathered about composition of the sub terrain.
While most of the process was previously done either manually or through use of slow computers, technological progress has greatly reduced the time of data interpretation and has revolutionized oil exploration. Another consequence of improved technology is that even small oil fields can now be discovered as the accuracy of instruments being used has also increased.
Robert Gordon, University of Scotland geologist Dr Antony Wyatt told Xinhua in a recent interview that advances in computer power has improved the interpretation of seismic data. "If you look at the size of oil fields discovered in Uganda it is small compared to those in Britain's North Sea oil fields or even those in the Middle East," he said during a recent workshop on the Kenyan oil industry.
Kenya and the entire East African region, has witnessed intensified exploratory activity since 2003, which led to the discoveries of oil and gas in Uganda and Tanzania. There is also ongoing exploration in Ethiopia.
The East African nation has drilled 31 dry wells in Isiolo, (northeastern Kenya) and Lamu (Southeast) and has lost a lot of money. Officials said the discovery of the commercial quantities of oil in Turkana, one of the poorest communities, should also ignite new investments in the economy of Turkana.
Many leads and prospects similar to Ngamia 1 have been identified and following this discovery the outlook for further success has significantly improved.
British oil and gas firm, Tullow had proposed to the government an increase in 2D seismic acquisition and the sourcing of an additional rig to increase drilling activities.Wyatt said that the size of oil deposits in Kenya is yet to be determined but they could be of the same size as those in Uganda as both hydrocarbons fields lie in the same rift valley geological plate. According to the Ugandan government, the east African nation has oil reserves of 2.2 billion barrels compared to those of Saudi Arabia estimated to be over 260 billion barrels.
New technologies have also enabled the portion of oil from any given field that can be exploited commercially to substantially increase.
While in the past the figure averaged 30 per cent, presently the number stands at over 50 per cent as oil extraction technologies have improved. Oil companies normally depend on the interpretation of seismic data in order to assess whether oil or other hydrocarbons are present. With the introduction of 3D interpretation, a more detailed picture of the underground rocks is now possible. The geologists said that oil exploration is a very risky business that requires huge capital investments and therefore the need for more reliable data on locations with possible oil field is crucial.
Previously geologists relied on 2D technology which did not provide enough information on the presence of rocks that contain oil deposits.
Most oil exploration companies now employ the use of aerial surveys in order to find indications of the presence of this vital commodity. The results are then used to narrow down the area where oil drilling could have the highest chances of success.
Big trucks called vibrators are also used to send sound waves down the earth crusts. "This data gives a cross section of the rocks