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imageNAIROBI: Fresh oil finds were announced Wednesday in Kenya's arid and under-developed north, further raising the prospect of a potential major boost to the country's economy, Tullow Oil said.

Tullow, a British-listed company focused on Africa, said it had raised its estimate of resources there to over 600 million barrels after new discoveries at two onshore wells in northern Kenya.

"Exploration results to date... have proven that Tullow's onshore acreage in northern Kenya has the potential to become a significant new hydrocarbon province," Exploration Director Angus McCoss said in a statement.

"Tullow believes that the overall potential for the basin, which will be fully assessed over the next two years through a significant programme of exploration and appraisal wells, is in excess of one billion barrels of oil," the company said.

The latest discoveries -- two wells in Block 10BB, Amosing-1 and Ewoi-1 -- mean Tullow has clocked up seven consecutive finds in northern Kenya.

The Africa-focused company made its name when it struck huge oil finds in Ghana and Uganda.

Recent petroleum finds in Kenya's north have caused excitement, but even if commercial production goes ahead, major challenges remain.

Kenya will need to invest in human resources, manage often unrealistic expectations and beef up infrastructure, preferably in conjunction with its neighbours, experts say.

Prior to the latest discoveries Tullow had already found oil the Ngamia-1, Twiga South-1, Etuko-1, Ekales-1 and Agete-1 wells.