By Moses Njagih and Njiraini Muchira
The question remains how big are the underground oil wells in volume, their commercial value, and years it will take before Kenya can have it flowing across its pipelines.
But as the country toasted to President Kibakiâs surprise announcement that an Anglo-Irish oil exploration firm, Tullow Oil Company, had struck the precious commodity that accounts for 25 per cent of the countryâs import bill, another burning question lingered in the shadows. Ngamia-1 sites in Turkana where oil has been discovered. [Photo: Courtesy]
Ngamia-1 sites in Turkana where oil has been discovered. [Photo: Courtesy]
That Big Question â triggered by the bittersweet memories of how oil has made as many, and broken up just as many African states, whose leaders used oil proceeds as a tool to corruptly enrich themselves, and to buy, subdue and impoverish the governed â is whether it will not end up as a curse disguised in the big promise of untold wealth and happy life thereafter.
But it was the Presidentâs big announcement of the find and the subsequent news conference by Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, accompanied by several officials, that served to uplift the spirit of a nation scoured by tribal and political wars set off by sparks from the The Hague courtroom.
Speaking at Kenyatta International Conference Centre while presiding over a performance contract signing function for parastatals on Monday, President Kibaki warned the discovery was just the beginning of a journey. "It is the beginning of a long journey to be an oil producer, which typically takes in excess of three years," said Kibaki, who was presiding over a function at KICC.
Kibaki announced that the oil discovered is what is technically referred to as Oil-Pay and was discovered at a depth of between 846 and 1,041 metres.
Immediately after the news broke, Ministry of Energy top brass led by minister Kiraitu Murungi and PS Patrick Wanyoike summoned a press conference to shed light on the major breakthrough that is believed will impact the economy of the country in so many ways.