Striking Geothermal Steam in Menengai, Kenya

geothermal Menengai Well One in Kenya discharging steam
The Menengai Geothermal Field in Kenya has a potential of 1,600 megawatts.

Kenya’s state-owned Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has struck steam in the Menengai volcanic caldera in Kenya. The company said the first well in the Menengai Geothermal Project, located in Nakuru County, was successfully completed and it is now undergoing tests to ascertain the exact yield.

“We are happy to announce that GDC has found commercially exploitable geothermal steam in Menengai. Preliminary tests indicate that the well is very productive. Our scientists are still conducting more tests to ascertain the exact productivity of the well,” said Dr. Silas Simiyu, the GDC’s Managing Director & CEO.

Dr. Simiyu made the announcement over the weekend when he took the press on a tour of the geothermal site that is being developed.

“The success of Menengai is the success of Kenya. As GDC continues to prove more steam in Menengai, it means that as a nation we are inching closer to an era of affordable, reliable and clean energy. It is the geothermal energy portfolio that will drive the country toward the Vision 2030,” the MD said.

The press found a well spectacularly gushing silvery steam and vapor to the air under very high pressure. “This is the mother of all wells in Menengai,” an elated Dr. Simiyu told the press at the site. Another well is also nearing completion. GDC plans to drill up to 120 wells in the field.

And in a bid to quickly tap into the Menengai fortune, the MD is encouraging the installation of small portable well head generators that will start producing electricity within one year as the conventional power plants come on line.

“The well head generators concept will see quick development of electricity from Menengai in roughly less than one year. It will also open investment opportunities to our local business people who can now easily get into the geothermal business,” the MD explained.

GDC moved into Menengai, a green field, in geothermal parlance late 2009 to carry out surface exploration. Then, it constructed roads, drilling pads, and an intricate water system in one of the most rugged and complex volcanic calderas in the country. Last October, GDC shipped in the country two state-of-the-art deep drilling rigs to drill for geothermal steam. The rigs are 2000 horsepower each and can drill up to 4000 meters into the belly of the earth. Now, barely two years into existence, the company is announcing a success story as it proves steam.

“When we use our rigs, and our engineers, we cut the cost of drilling by 50 percent. This is a major saving on the part of the government and it means that it will have a corresponding drop on the electricity tariffs,” Dr. Simiyu explained.

The Menengai Geothermal Field has a potential of 1,600 MW. GDC will harness the steam and invite Independent Power Producers (IPPS) to come and put up conventional power plants. The company has already invited bids for the same.

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