Dubai: Black Marlin Energy, a Dubai-based company, plans to search for oil onshore and offshore Kenya.

The company said a joint venture involving its subsidiary East African Exploration Limited (EAX) has signed a seven-year production sharing contract (PSC) with Kenya.

The contract is for Blocks L17 and L18, which lie between the Tanzanian border and the Kenyan coastal town of Kilifi.

EAX holds a 40 per cent stake, while Somken Upstream Kenya and British energy firm Aminex have 35 per cent and 25 per cent interests respectively.

Aminex is the nominated operator of the PSC, which was awarded by the Kenyan energy ministry. Jeff Hume, chief executive officer of Black Marlin Energy, said his company would be looking at new exploration opportunities in Kenya, which relies on imported oil and gas.

With record high crude oil prices, the regions that were not considerable commercially attractive earlier are seeing new exploration activities.

"Our projects are based on domestic consumption economics, allowing us to develop much smaller projects than the majors, yet ones that could be crucial to continuing Kenyan economic growth," Hume said.

Before signing the PSC, the joint venture companies had conducted a geoscientific study of the area.

According to Aminex, a seabed core sampling operation has revealed "encouraging shows of hydrocarbons."

Black Marlin director Eric Fore told Gulf News the company plans to finish seismic and geochemical work by the end of 2009 and hopes to drill a well in 2010.

So far the companies have spent $2 million on seismic surveys and related activities.