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Monday, 26 March 2012

Kenya:Oil Discovery in Turkana – ‘manna’ from heaven?

Social media is a buzz with news of the new findings of oil in Turkana.Today Kenyans are making their voices heard worldwide as they update per second statuses on the internet sites.

On Twitter Kenyans are trending #TurkanaOil and the world has no choice but to recognize our presence considering that Kenyans were voted the second most active tweeters in Africa behind South Africa in a scientific research poll in early 2012.

On  Facebook,Kenyans cant help but make fun about the whole Turkana Oil find.

This excitement has been brought about by Pres.Mwai Kibaki’s announcement today, that Kenya has discovered oil in Ngamia-1 well in the North West District of Turkana, at a depth of between 846 and 1041 metres.
Kiraitu Murungi,Kenyan Minister for Energy shows a sample of the Turkana Crude Oil
Most of the Kenyans in this part of the country rarely feel included in the proverbial national cake in as far as resource allocation is concerned. Infact, the residents here say they are not part of Kenya, and when they do they say they are from the ‘other Kenya

Kenya now boasts of the Konza ICT Park{The Kenyan Silicon Savanna},Isiolo Resort City and The Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) not to mention the momentous developments being steered by other Vision 2030 flagship projects.

Second to that, as the country gears towards devolution, the oil find could turn out to be the proverbial manna from heaven for the Turkana folk in particular and Kenya in general. Oil prospects in the most unusual part of Kenya,who would have thought it possible that within the first attempt, Tullow Oil would hit the jackpot?

Oil Prospecting underway...
Turkana County is bound to leap in big strides into economic dominance if the oil is well tapped to benefits the locals in the region rather than if they are stripped bare bone leaving them in squalor as foreigners pack up and leave having fully drained the oil from their land.

All this excitement got me thinking of the implications of having oil in our country.

Without doubt,the oil discovery will spur commercial activity in the areas in and around Turkana not to mention neighboring East African countries.

With the Kenya Government's Counties structure set to kick in with the new dispensation, alternative arrangement for handling oil cargoes at selected ports needs to be made.

This will be imperative considering that Turkana does not have a nearby port. Tullow Oil in their prospecting master plan had infact proposed to build a 1,500 Km pipeline to Mombasa to facilitate movement of the commodity.

The Kenyan Government and counties ought also to consider the effects of oil spillage and the search and rescue initiatives that go hand in hand with any of such eventualities. This means having a contingency plan that involves specialized and trained rapid response units in case of emergencies at sea{ports} and land {pipeline breaks}.

The last time I checked, Turkana did not have an International airport and I can bet nothing has changed. With the oil discovery there might be some ‘logical’ need to have one that can accommodate jumbos and the uptight business men/women and VIPs who will be making frequent commercial flights to check on their ‘investments’. Airstrips that were used by small ‘birds’ bringing in relief food wont do.I can bet also that land to construct such a facility won’t be hard to come by.

Meanwhile....somewhere in Turkana..........
Ever thought of going for holiday in Turkana? Ok, your un fathomable dreams are about to come true. I can assure you, tourism {beach resorts al..akin to those in Dubai} will be a big deal in Turkana in the next coming years and with them comes employment opportunities {not to mention Point 5 children..will crop up in Turkana after evey other 9 months. if U know what im saying?}

The government/counties should also set aside a big wad of cash to cater for trunk and all weather access roads to the hotels, beaches, airports and ports if they would want a surety on economic growth

In as far as security is concerned there will be need for training of officers in vigilance on the pipelines routes and rescue operations in case of emergencies. The Kenya Marine Authority as an established body could be handpicked to overseer marine security at the ports.

Finally, it goes without saying that wherever there is oil and bad politics there is bound to be bloodshed and uncalled for loss of life.Africa is rife with examples of the negative effects of the ‘black Gold’ as oil is commonly reffered to…Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan..should I go on?

This is why we should tread carefully because money brings jealousy and envy and we could see brother turning against brother in the pursuit of lucrative oil deals.

Coincidentally, the Turkana Oil discovery was done by Tullow Oil,a British prospecting company that also discovered oil in Uganda recently.By the way,when news hit the world that the company had hit black Gold in Kenya their stocks went up the boards.Hmm…

The company is quoted on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges and has interests in over 90 exploration and production licences across 22 countries most of which are in Africa.*raised eyebrows*

It takes no rocket scientist to figure out that western capitalist are already packing their bags,destination Africa as they say it so often.They too will be out to sink their venomous 'opportunistic teeth' into our rare treasure in their pursuit to be the biggest players in the Kenyan Oil Industry.

Let us pray that our leaders remain sober in mind and speech not to aggravate negativity in a potentially explosive electioneering year in our country.Leadership especially at the pinnacle - The president - ought to be level headed so as not to be swayed to sing to the tune of conniving super powers to shift the balance of trade in oil their way.
Oil occasioned violence flare up in Northern Sudan...

Bottom line,the oil can be a blessing or curse depending on how we harness it,keeping in mind that despite earning over $100m a day from oil exports, Nigeria and Angola are generally ranked among the 100 poorest countries in the world.A lot remains to be done if we are to enjoy the long-term benefits of being regional-continental or possibly world Oil Producers.

In the meantime let us as Kenyans wallow in the glory of being prospective world Oil exporters.

God Bless Kenya!The land of rare Opportunities and now OIL!!!

The Scribe rests his pen.

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