27 June 2012

Kenya: Oil Exploration Area Carved Out in Turkana

Turkana County is once again in the limelight and still for all the good reasons after the discovery of an additional 43 meters of potential oil in ... ( Resource: Kenya: More Oil Discovered in Turkana

An area covering an estimated 150,000 square kilometres will be under oil exploration in Turkana county and the Kerio Valley region. In Turkana, already 63,000 square kilometres is already under exploration and more areas will be covered in Kerio Valley areas including parts of Pokot, Keiyo and Baringo counties.

The government has said the families in the affected areas will not be evicted during the exploration period which is expected to last more than seven years. The government has proposed to increase to 20 per cent the proceeds from oil which will be given to the Turkana community. Initially, British firm Tullow which is carrying out oil exploration in Turkana had agreed to allocate 15 per cent of the revenue to the community.

But the Commissioner of Petroleum Martin Heya has said the percentage of the allocation will be increased depending on the viability of the exploration. Turkana County Council had threatened to go to court to demand for 25 percent of the proceeds, but the government opted to engage the council in dialogue over the issue.

Heya has said the government is in the process of revising the minerals act to address some of the concerns raised by members of the Turkana community. "We have initiated dialogue on the issues so that we carry out this exercise in cooperation with the community and other stakeholders", he said. The government has so far commissioned 35 blocks of areas of exploration and more will be covered.

Meanwhile, retired President Moi has asked the government to make public its policies on the exploration of oil, gas, coal and other precious minerals. He said it was imperative that the local people are made aware of the policies to enable them to participate in planning for their development. Moi said such open discussion of the policies will reassure the local people where minerals are found that their rights will be respected.

And MPs from the region and grassroots leaders have accused the government of negotiating with Tullow without involving the community. "We want the community to be fully informed and involved by the government and Tullow. This is not an issue that should be handled with the government and ignoring the community", said Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro.

Turkana South DC Joseph Kanyiri said the government is aware of all issues raised by the community on the exploration for oil in the area. "We will deal with all issues through dialogue because its the only way out to forge ahead with everyone on board", said Kanyiri.

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