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Kampala — Kenya's first oil export cargo could be delayed until September this year following delays to trucked oil transit flows to the coast from Tullow Oil's onshore South Lokichar development, a company spokesman said Monday.

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The UK's Tullow Oil and its partners have temporally halted the Early Oil Pilot Scheme trucking to Mombasa to allow additional regulatory approvals necessary to start crude oil production via the Early Production Facility.

"We have stopped trucking as we are about to switch from moving the stored crude in the field to starting crude oil production via the Early Production Facility (EPF). We are waiting some regulatory approvals that we expect to be granted in the coming days/weeks allowing EOPS to resume in late April/early May," the spokesman said in an emailed statement, adding that the first export shipment is expected in "Q2/Q3".

Tullow, which was forced to suspend trucked transit to the coast earlier this years, expects to start moving 2,000 b/d of from oil in the coming weeks after the government approvals are signed. The company had previously said it expected to ship the first cargo of South Lokichar crude in June.

So far, over 80,000 barrels of oil have been transported to the port of Mombasa in anticipation of shipping a maiden export cargo.

Tullow oil officials together with Kenyan government officials in March began meeting with possible buyers for its crude under this scheme as the country prepares to join a league of oil exporters in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya's energy and minerals minister Andrew Kamau said on the weekend.

Kamau added that crude will be discounted at $2/b of Brent price to potential international buyers ahead of a major crude production in 2022.

Kamau said that over 18 international buyers from China, Europe and other parts of the world had shown interest and will be considered under international open tendering process and the crude will be sold to a bidder who offers Kenya the best price.

-- Namala Doreen, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Robert Perkins, newsdesk@spglobal.com