Tullow Oil to reopen operations in Turkana, begin exporting oil amid calls for investigations
This, even as the Senate is already investigating circumstances under which 2 batches of crude oil were extracted and sold abroad during the initial phase of the exploration, meant for Analysis and Appraisal.
The Multi-National Oil and Gas exploration company located in Turkana county, which ventured into Oil exploration in Kenya in 2012, says the Commercial viability extraction phase will see Kenya extract and export a minimum of 120,000 barrels of crude oil to both regional and global refineries.
“The good news is that it matches international standards of crude oil extraction,” Country Manager, Tullow Oil Franklin Juma said.
The crude oil deposits were extracted from 10 oil wells out of 40, drilled in 4 huge blocks, in Turkana East and South respectively.
Extracts sampled and analyzed from the crude oil have established that it contains lower levels of Hydrogen Sulphide compared to the same commodity extracted in Africa’s leading oil exporters such as Nigeria.
“The field development plan is to use Lamu as the export zone. Markets in Emirates, Asia & China Big concentration in Turkana East & Turkana South,” Juma stated.
Out of the 10 oil wells with the commercial viability of crude oil extraction, four have been developed with works on the remaining six ongoing.
Tullow Oil Kenya already submitted its Development plan to formally commence extraction of the crude oil to the Ministry of Energy in 2021. However, 2 years on, there is no response from the government.
“And we are going to ask EPRA and Energy CS what’s keeping the approval process long?” Senate Energy Committee chairperson Wahome Wamatinga said.
“We submitted a fee development plan to EPRA in 2021 to indicate community development as per the Development Act,” Juma added.
The Ministry of Lands and National Lands Commission have already mapped the passage of the 824-kilometre 20-inch carbon steel oil pipeline from Turkana to its destination in Lamu port, traversing a total of 6 counties including Garrisa and Isiolo. Extraction of the high-quality crude oil will be boosted by the input of a 90-kilometre water supply pipeline from River Turkwel.
But even as the UK-based Oil Exploration company prepares for its commercial extraction process, the senior management of the firm was tasked by the Senate Energy Committee to explain why it sold batches of crude oil overseas in 2019 and 2022.
The officials stated that they were pushed by the government to sell, contrary to the contractual agreement that indicated the early phase of oil exploration would be for analysis and extraction.
In addition, Tullow Oil cannot ascertain how much was collected from the sale of the two batches of crude oil.
“They didn’t disclose the sale and the community was supposed to benefit,” Turkana Senator James Lomenen said.
Wamatinga added: “We are investigating how the deal was done, how much was earned and whether Kenyan taxpayers benefited from the deal.”
Even as Tullow Oil insists it has the financial muscle to commence the half-a-trillion commercial extraction stage that will see the development of the 10 oil wells complete in 3 years, the firm admitted that it is facing credit challenges from lenders who are keen on investing in green renewable energy as opposed to fossil remittances through oil and gas exploration.
President Ruto while hosting the Africa Climate Summit reiterated that Kenya is moving quickly to obtaining renewable energy through the green revolution.
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