LONDON/NAIROBI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - British explorer Tullow Oil plc and its partner Africa Oil Corp said on Wednesday they had encountered oil in a second well they are drilling in northern Kenya close to another one where they had struck oil earlier in the year.
The two are drilling the wildcat well, known as Twiga-1, on onshore Block 13T, about 30 km west of where they announced another oil discovery on Ngamia-1 well on Block 10BB in March. The commercial viability of that find has yet to be ascertained.
"Twiga South-1 exploration well in onshore Kenya Block 13T has successfully encountered oil," Tullow said in a statement.
"Drilling is on-going and ... an announcement of the drilling result is expected in early to mid-November after target depth has been achieved and necessary sampling and analysis has been completed."
The results of the well had initially been expected by late October, but minor mechanical setbacks caused a delay.
The companies are still drilling, and are scheduled to reach a total depth of 3,114 metres in the next two weeks, after which they will announce more information.
The discovery in Twiga South-1 increases the likelihood that there is a large reservoir, and that Kenya could become a petroleum producer and exporter should the oil found to be commercially viable.
The east African country has recently become a hotbed of exploration, in a region where neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, have struck commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons.
The discovery at Twiga South-1 is Tullow's third this year.
In addition to the Ngamia-1 find, the British explorer was also a venture partner on an offshore well drilled by Texas-based Apache Corp. in September.
The well, Mbawa-1, encountered dry natural gas, but not in commercial quantities.
Tullow, Africa Oil and Afren Plc are also drilling another well, Paipai-1, which has a planned total depth of 4,112 metres, in northern Kenya's Marsabit County on Block 10 A.