Part of complete coverage on
Oil discovered in Kenya
March 26, 2012 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
- Kenya's president calls it a 'major breakthrough'
- British-based Tullow Oil said the find is beyond expectations
- Kenya is the second country in East Africa to have discovered oil
Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya has finally struck oil after decades of exploration, the country's president announced Monday.
President Mwai Kibaki called the discovery a "major breakthrough," though it will take more than three years before the country can become an oil producer.
"This is the first time Kenya has made such a discovery and it is very good news for our country," Kibaki said at a state function in Nairobi.
British-based Tullow Oil said it established more than 20 meters (65 feet) of net oil pay, which refers to the depth of the oil reservoir.
"This is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia," the company's exploration director, Angus McCoss, said in a written statement. "To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations and bodes well for the material program ahead of us."
Read more: Ghana's oil discovery: blessing or curse?
The company said it plans to drill deeper and drill multiple other wells to seek more oil.
Tullow said it discovered the oil well in Turkana County, in the northwestern part of the country near Uganda, where the company is already a major player in the country's oil fields.
Kenya is the second country, after Uganda, to have discovered oil in East Africa.
Richard Leakey, a noted paleontologist and environmentalist, told CNN there could be significant benefits from the oil find.
"I have always thought there was oil there and I have encouraged the search for oil for the past 40 years because of our geological surveys," said Leakey, who has been working in the Turkana region for four decades. "In the end, I believe there will be a significant find."
See also: Concerns over South Africa fracking plans
Leakey says will take five to 10 years for the oil find to benefit Kenyans.
"The hope is that Kenya won't squander the money before it has made anything," he said.
Kenya must now safeguard against oil spills and environmental pollution, he said, and make sure local people benefit.
Tullow has more than 90 production and exploration licenses in 22 countries in Africa, Europe, South America and Asia.
National Oil Corp. of Kenya has been directing the search of oil in the country since its began operating in 1984, according to its website.
Part of complete coverage on
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
A new report praises South Africa's economic transformation since apartheid. But enormous challenges remain.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Landlocked Burundi is looking to compete on the international stage as one of Africa's most prestigious coffee producers and exporters.
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 1718 GMT (0118 HKT)
From zombie spelling games to walking snails, Africa's mobile gaming industry is taking off across the continent from Uganda to South Africa.
November 8, 2013 -- Updated 1146 GMT (1946 HKT)
Ethiopia is turning to renewable energy technology as the East African country looks to become a powerhouse for its regional partners.
November 13, 2013 -- Updated 1422 GMT (2222 HKT)
Animated cartoons are helping Kenyan companies to engage with audiences and lure international investors.
November 4, 2013 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Downtown Johannesburg -- once a no-go zone riddled with crime -- is undergoing urban restoration.
October 16, 2013 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Using helicopters and night-vision, crime syndicates are taking rhino poaching to a new level and conservation parks are struggling to keep up.
October 10, 2013 -- Updated 0927 GMT (1727 HKT)
A lack of infrastructure has hindered Africa's development, but a series of megaprojects could change that.
October 4, 2013 -- Updated 1639 GMT (0039 HKT)
Sub-Saharan Africa's economic renaissance is fueling investment from fast food joints looking to tap the continent's growing middle class.
September 24, 2013 -- Updated 1002 GMT (1802 HKT)
Soccer may reign supreme in Africa but the NBA has set its sights on the continent to provide future basketball stars and fans.
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
With 10 years of peace behind it, Liberia is now hoping to attract investment to create a booming hospitality industry.
August 29, 2013 -- Updated 0942 GMT (1742 HKT)
Could a recent wave of solar power investment solve Africa's energy problems?
Each week Marketplace Africa covers the continent's macro trends and interviews a major player from the region's business community.
Today's five most popular stories