British exploration firm Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners, Canada's Africa Oil Corp and Total Energies, are seeking goodwill from the new Turkana County government to execute multibillion-shilling petroleum activities in the South Lokichar Basin.
Tullow Oil External Affairs Manager Franklin Juma, at a meeting on Wednesday with Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai, his deputy John Erus and other senior officials in Lodwar, said the uphill task has been how to identify a strategic partner.
Mr Juma said the partner will be responsible for raising $3.4 billion (about Sh408 billion) and take over the operations of oil fields to ensure Kenya fulfills its plans for the final field development plan (FDP).
"The strategic partner will initiate the development plan that includes the construction of an oil processing facility in Lokichar and an 800-kilometre crude oil pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu, to pipe water from Turkwel dam and carry out more exploration activities," Mr Juma said.
He noted that regular engagements with all stakeholders, residents of the affected villages and leaders were critical in order to avoid conflicts that may interfere with implementation of projects.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining had in June held talks for a strategic partner with two Indian state-backed companies that agreed to be joint operators of the Turkana oil project.
The companies are Indian Oil Corp, India’s top refiner, and ONGC Videsh, that country’s second-largest oil and gas firm.
Governor Lomorukai called for improved community involvement through continuous friendly engagement with all stakeholders, especially on the thorny issue of compulsory land acquisition of land for the projects.
“We have to ensure improved community participation in oil operations,” he said.
“The strategic partner should work to maximise participation of local businesses within the supply chain to ensure the oil and gas sector creates positive impacts on the local economy and improves lives by investing in local suppliers, local skills and by creating real opportunities within the industry."
Corporate social responsibility
He said Turkana residents appreciated the projects implemented by Tullow Oil under its corporate social responsibility programme in critical sectors such as education, health and water, saying more needed to be done.
He assured the partners that while he will aggressively defend community rights, he was keen to build good relationships with all development partners.
He urged the partners to align their programmes with the development priorities spelt out in his manifesto, key among them investment in water sufficiency.
Tullow Oil Social Performance Adviser Bethwel Sang assured the governor of support to extend initial investment in social projects in water, education and health.
He cited the company’s projects and programmes to support the local community, including the construction of sub-county hospitals in Lokichar, Lokori and Kanam Kemer, drilling and equipping 30 boreholes and issuing bursaries and scholarships to bright but needy students.