Govt seeks community support for oil pipeline project

The government has begun engaging communities in five counties along the proposed oil pipeline route to get their support in the project.

The move is aimed at averting potential security risks that saw Kenya lose out on having a joint pipeline with Uganda over security concerns.

Petroleum and Mining cabinet secretary John Munyes said the community buy in is expected to highlight the benefits of having the key oil sector infrastructure as well as engage communities on the economic benefits of the same.

“We need to engage the communities here for them to protect the pipeline. We are now getting into the process of engaging the five counties and assuring them they will reap benefits of the pipeline coming through here,” Mr Munyes said after a meeting with Samburu governor Moses Kasaine.

The pipeline is expected to move from Lokichar, Turkana County all the way to Lamu with the government currently conducting feasibility studies on it.

“We will look for their consent (community) so that in the next three years crude oil can move from Lokichar to the port of Lamu,” Mr Munyes said.

Kenya is constructing its own pipeline after an earlier plan to have a joint pipeline with Uganda collapsed in 2016.

Backed by French oil firm Total SA, Uganda opted for a route through Tanzania, leaving Kenya to come up with a fresh pipeline plan.

The move by government to secure community support for the pipeline is expected to iron out potential thorny issues that could derail construction and future movement of crude oil.

Total, which acquired a stake in the Kenya’s crude oil blocks, is set to finance the pipeline project.

Prior to cabinet changes in January, the Ministry of Energy had invited eight pre-qualified firms to bid for the job of undertaking the front end engineering design (FEED), which will entail feasibility studies and an initial pipeline design.

The FEED is expected to inform the specifications of the pipeline as well as how much it will cost the country.

Initial estimates had put the cost of the pipeline at Sh200 billion.

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