Will oil discovery light up Turkana?


Will oil discovery light up Turkana?

Kenyans will have to wait until 2017 to benefit from the oil discovered in Turkana County three years ago.

However, residents of Lokichar are already enjoying the benefits of this discovery with schools and dispensaries having been set up by the companies drilling oil.

Shule

Lokichar, which is located 90 kilometers south of Lodwar, made headlines globally in March 2012 after the government of the then President Mwai Kibaki announced that huge oil deposits had been discovered.

In January 2014, British exploration firm Tullow Oil said it had made more discoveries that had raised the estimated recoverable deposits in Turkana’s Lokichar basin to one billion barrels.

Ngamia 1, Kenya’s first oil discovery, attracted global investors and oil mining firms but Tullow was chosen to take up the drilling job.

For now, activities around Ngamia 1 have been restricted due to health and other operational concerns.

Ngamia 1
Ngamia 1

“Currently, there is no one allowed inside due to health concerns,” says Turkana County Communication officer Denis Okore.

At Lokichar’s Twiga D, the engineers have finished drilling and are in the process of de-rigging.

Twiga D
Twiga D

“Once they have drilled, there is no certainty that there is oil, but the data is recorded,” says Okore. “We are trying to understand the oil basin. All these wells have given us understanding of what the basin looks like.”

The oil discovered might start being produced in the next two years, this according to Tullow Oil Country Manager Martin Mbogo.

Tullow Oil Country Manager Martin Mbogo.
Tullow Oil Country Manager Martin Mbogo.

“Hopefully, after all the paper work is signed and policies are put in place, production of the oil will start after 2017,” says Mbogo.

This even as the Turkana County Government says they are not involved in the process.

Turkana County Executive for Energy Rodha Loyor.
Turkana County Executive for Energy Rodha Loyor.

“Tullow is trying to ignore the county government. The company is working directly with the national government and is not giving us enough audience,” says the Turkana County Executive for Energy Rodha Loyor.

However, Mr. Mbogo says the County government is involved and that “we have regular scheduled meetings and provide them with quarterly updates.”

“As a county government, we do not even have full information about Tullow, should they hide things?” poses Loyor.

Mary Akuom, a resident at Lokichar says her seven children have gained education as a result of Tullow Oil.

Mary Akuom
Mary Akuom

“Schools were several kilometers away,” says Akuom. “Before the building of this school, we used to fear that the children will meet wild animals on the way to school. We even took them out of school.”

“Now, they can greet people in English, and they speak Swahili,” says a laughing Akuom.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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