Turkana oil: Council, firm clash over cash plan


An oil rig at Ngamia-1, Turkana.

A local authority in Turkana and an oil exploration firm are trading accusations over revenue.

While Tullow Oil Plc insists proper channels were followed, including rate payments, some councillors from Turkana County Council have been receiving money from the firm without remitting it to the council.

The controversy took a dramatic turn recently when some Turkana councillors moved to stop operations at Ngamia 1 and Twiga 1 until Tullow writes a formal application and starts remitting council taxes.

The disagreement has also sucked in the Ministry of Energy after the council recently threatened to go to court to restrain Tullow from starting oil exploration.

Last week the council barred contractors hired by the company from going on with oil exploration at Twiga 1, the second drilling well after Ngamia 1 in Nakukulas area, Turkana South, where the company struck oil early this year.

“The Ministry of Energy and Tullow Oil flouted protocol in prospecting of the gasoline, forcing us to move to court,” council chairman Eliud Kerio Longacha said.

“As custodians of land on behalf of the community, we were not issued with an Environment Impact Assessment report or a detailed account of how the locals will benefit from the natural resource,” Mr Longacha claimed.

But in a meeting on Monday between Tullow Oil, Turkana South DC and councillors, the oil firm said it had evidence of payments and communication to the council.

It was also established that some councillors from the oil exploration block have been benefiting directly from the company while the council claims it was kept in the dark.

The council says it will go to court to block Tullow from operating until the taxes are remitted and the Energy ministry gives a clear plan for revenue sharing.

Ms Ann Kabugi, the Tullow Oil communications manager said the council should raise its concerns with the Energy ministry.

The council now awaits a meeting with ministry officials in Lodwar when the community will give its views. The Energy ministry is expected to reveal its proposed oil revenue sharing plan in the meeting next week.