Senators want Tullow to pay Turkana residents’ share of oil cash

Turkana Oil

A truck loaded with crude oil spotted at Ortum on the Kainuk-Kapenguria road heading to Mombasa under the Early Oil Pilot System on October 5, 2018. Senators are pushing for Tullow Oil to pay at least Sh13 billion due to the residents and Turkana County government.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Senators are pushing for Tullow Oil to pay at least Sh13 billion due to the residents and Turkana County government.

Turkana Senator James Lomenen raised concerns over Tullow Oil’s failure to release 20 per cent (Sh10.4 billion) of proceeds due to the county government and another 5 per cent (Sh2.6 billion) for the local communities.

He said residents are yet to benefit from the firm’s presence in the county since 2012 when it began exploration, including compensation for land.

“The host community is still suffering despite having the precious crude oil worth billions of shillings,” said Mr Lomenen during a tour of the company by the Senate’s Energy committee yesterday.

Mr Lomenen added that local leaders have not been engaged by the company neither have they been told about the cost of the project, which would inform their demand for a fair share of earnings from the oil exploration.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale also questioned the firm’s failure to make any payments yet it is set to make at least Sh52 billion. He argued that with such potential financial benefits for the local community and the entire country should be known.

“This company must come out clearly and tell us how our people are going to benefit while it is in the country,” said Dr Khalwale.

“We would like to know how the people of Turkana and the entire country will benefit from the oil exploration exercise by Tullow Oil,” he added.

Dr Khalwale also said that government officers should be part of the team carrying out the exploration exercise in order to give the true operational position of the company since at the company’s activities are currently shrouded in mystery.

Committee chairperson and Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga raised concerns over opaqueness in the financial operations of the company, saying there are no details of the crude oil that has already been sold by the company and there was little public participation in its activities.

He said that the committee will liaise with the relevant government agencies to ensure that the discovery of oil in the country does not turn into a curse for residents who feel that the project has not benefited them.

“We will follow up on the government plan to ensure the company honours its obligations to the local community and the country,” said Mr Wamatinga.

He added that Tullow has also not come out clearly on the validity of its operating licence, leading to some local partners withdrawing from the project.

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana asked the company to disclose what it has in store for the residents of Turkana, Marsabit and Isiolo counties where it has set up its operations.

Tullow sold two batches of crude oil produced in 2019 and 2022 despite the oil being meant for analysis purposes, thus breaching its contractual agreement.  The firm has also refused to disclose the amount sold and the revenue realised.