Tullow agrees to return to its Turkana fields

Turkana Oil wells. [Photo: Standard]
Tullow Oil has started mobilising its personnel and equipment to resume work at its Turkana oil fields after an absence of more than a month.

The resolution was made yesterday during a meeting of Tullow and Petroleum and Mining Ministry officials yesterday.

It was decided that the firm return to the site immediately and resume implementation of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS).  

Activities, including the trucking of oil to Mombasa, were disrupted mid-June by protests by the local community over insecurity.

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The protests came about a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the first four trucks carrying 600 barrels of oil to Mombasa.

The disruptions saw Tullow staff and suppliers leave the oilfields. No work has been undertaken since.

The ministry said in a statement yesterday the meeting had resolved that the operations would “commence forthwith without undue delay”.

“The contractor (Tullow Oil) dispatched an advance team on Monday, August 6, to Turkana County,” said John Mosonik, the chief administrative secretary at the ministry.

Give assurance

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He, however, did not clarify whether the standoff with the local community had been resolved.

He also did not say when the trucking of oil to Mombasa under the pilot scheme would resume.

Moving the crude oil stored in Tullow’s facilities at Lokichar to Mombasa is the first phase of the pilot scheme. Subsequent phases will entail Tullow producing 2,000 barrels and transporting them by road to Mombasa for export, with the first export cargo expected to leave Mombasa by March next year.

Ending hostilities with the local community has in the past been said to be critical for the resumption of activities as it would give a degree of assurance of security to Tullow Oil and its suppliers.

Grievance management

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Mr Mosonik said the ministry would set up a two-tier grievance management system, which would comprise representatives in Turkana to handle issues raised by the community and another committee at the national level to handle issues escalated by the county team.

“The Government has further resolved to establish a two-tier system framework that will provide communities living in Turkana and Tullow Oil with avenues of addressing any emerging issues and concerns,” said Mosonik.

He explained that Tullow had incurred Sh1 billion losses for leased equipment in the one-and-a-half months that there was no activity in the oilfields.

The statement not explain whether the issues raised by the community had been resolved, only saying the Government was keen on ensuring a return of smooth operations at Lokichar.

Tullow OilagreesTurkana fieldsreturn