The government has lost more than Sh400 million in two weeks after British oil firm Tullow suspended operations following protests by Turkana residents.
Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes says the losses are increasing as residents demand jobs and security.
He said oil is a national resource and 600 extra security officers have been deployed in the region to improve security and also support the transportation of crude oil to Mombasa.
“We are really urging the residents of Turkana to stop blocking the transportation because that is not helping in any way. Oil is a national resource and it cannot benefit any of us unless Tullow is allowed to go on with its operations,” Munyes said.
He said yesterday in Eldoret that the government is in talks with local leaders to resolve the impasse.
The standoff over transportation of crude oil from Turkana is in the third week now.
Residents have blocked tanks ferrying the oil from Ngamia 8 in Lokichar to Mombasa.
Area MPs have said the government and Tullow should listen to the demands by the communities, who want jobs and security.
“We are committed to dialogue to end this dispute. We know oil is a resource for the whole country but residents should not be ignored. They should be given priority in all matters concerning the oil,” Turkana East MP Mohammed Ali Lokiru said.
The demonstrators demanded the trucks be driven back to Africa Camp Solutions from Lokichar town.They held protests over jobs, tenders, insecurity and the community’s share of proceeds from the oil.
“We will meet again this week and hope to unlock the problem, which is not good for our country,” Munyes said.
Tullow Oil country managing director Martin Mbogo has said the company might be forced to shut down operations at its northern Kenyan oilfields if it cannot reach a deal to end the protests.
The protests, which began on June 27, interrupted a trucking scheme to transport about 2,000 barrels of crude per day from the fields to the Coast. The pilot scheme was launched in June.
The oil is being used to test flow rates and other technical issues before the firm starts full production and before Kenya starts oil exports via a pipeline to the Coast.
The pipeline is due to be constructed by 2022.