A significant new gas discovery has been made in Kenya with the Mbawa deep-water exploration well, according to Australian joint venture partner Pancontinental Oil & Gas.

The Mbawa-1 well hit 52 net metres of gas pay in the primary Cretaceous sandstone target.

The well is still drilling towards a planned total depth of 3275 metres, and there is a secondary target reservoir along the way.

Pancontinental chief executive Barry Rushworth said Mbawa is “the first ever substantive hydrocarbon discovery offshore Kenya. We are delighted to prove that there is a working hydrocarbon system offshore Kenya.

“With drilling continuing to a deeper exploration target, these interim results may be the first part of the story in this well, and they are certainly just the beginning of the main story of oil and gas exploration offshore Kenya,” he said.

The well is being drilled using the drillship Deepsea Metro 1 in a water depth of 860 metres.

Pancontinental owns 15% of Block L8 in Kenya, and its joint venture partners are operator Apache (50%), Origin Energy (20%) and Tullow Oil (15%).