- Tullow Oil, entered Kenya in 2010, after signing agreements with Africa Oil and Centric Energy to gain a 50 per cent interest in five onshore licenses.
- Since then, it has undertaken exploration and drilling in various areas within the agreed spaces.
Kenya Land Alliance has issued a statement regarding recent Tullow Oil activities in Turkana county, including a meeting that took place in Lodwar, between corporate executives from Tullow Group, led by CEO Rahul Dhir, and the members of Turkana county executive, led by Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai on July 18.
During the meeting, pronouncements and promises were made indicating a shift in Tullow Group’s oil exploration and production activities in the region and better stakeholder collaboration, especially with the county government.
The British exploration firm, Tullow Oil, entered Kenya in 2010, after signing agreements with Africa Oil and Centric Energy to gain a 50 per cent interest in five onshore licenses. Since then, it has undertaken exploration and drilling in various areas within the agreed spaces.
Tullow Oil assumed full ownership of the Kenya crude oil project in Turkana in May this year, making it the biggest private player in the Turkana oil project, a position that comes with immense responsibility in terms of its duty and responsibility to the community.
Emergent community concerns
It is a fact that both the company and the county government have largely ignored various community concerns, including those raised in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment study that was done during the commencement of the Turkana Oil project.
According to the statement, some of the concerns include the lack of meaningful consultation and participation in decision-making processes related to oil exploration in Turkana county.
They feel that their voices and worries are not adequately considered, and decisions are made without their informed consent.
This is contrary to Article 1 that states that sovereign power belongs to the people and Article 10 (2) (a) on national values and principles of governance that outline the importance of facilitating public participation especially on any decision-making process, in this case, mega projects which directly affects the community.
“Local communities have expressed concerns about the adequacy and fairness of compensation for their land and displacement from their ancestral territories. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides for the protection of the rights of communities to own ancestral land and to be compensated for the involuntary loss of their land. Article 63(1) recognises community land tenure," the statement reads.
"There is need to engage the community on their rights to compensations in relation to The Land Act, 2012, The Land Value Index Laws, namely the Land Value Index Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Land Value Index (Amendment) Act, 2019, The Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 2019 and finally the Community Land Act, 2016.”
The Turkana community is therefore keen to see Tullow Oil and the county government work towards the actualisation several items, including the provision of clean and safe water to communities around oil wells since their water points (ponds, wells) have been contaminated by the chemicals from the oil exploration and related operations and compensation for the community and individuals affected by the wellpads.
Local content agreements
Equally important to the community is proper adherence to local content agreements regarding job creation and hiring, building of skills, production sharing, social investment commitments and development of local businesses so that sustainable economic capital at the county level is realised.
They are also keen on seeing the actualisation of a robust and productive public engagement and public involvement in all matters that directly affect the affairs of the community as a result of the operations and presence of Tullow Oil in the region and a participatory approach to Environmental and Social Impact Assessment studies.
Lastly, minimal disruption of the community’s pastoralist way of life through displacement from grazing lands and blocking of migratory routes.
The Kenya Land Alliance statement urges both Tullow Oil and Turkana government to exercise prudence in their approach to the exploitation of the natural resource. It says the county government has a duty of care and protection its residents and therefore should safeguard the interests of the community.