The first shipment of crude oil from Lokichar in Turkana County left Mombasa Port for China yesterday.
Amid jubilation, President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the tanker ferrying 200,000 barrels of oil at about 12.30pm.
The ship, christened Celsius Riga, was escorted by tugs that flashed water around it as the President and other leaders watched and took photos.
Speaking after witnessing the ship sail away, the president said Kenya has now joined the league of oil exporting countries.
He assured counties that they will get a fair share of the oil profits, as production increases.
“Local communities will be the main beneficiaries. We will share oil revenues with counties in a fair and equitable manner,” Uhuru said.
Kenya discovered oil in Turkana in 2012. Yesterday’s export was undertaken as part of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS).
Speaking at the same time, Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes said his docket is fast-tracking plans to construct an oil pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu.
This is as the country gears up for full oil production by 2023.
“This is a milestone we have achieved. It is a day Kenyans should remember for having joined other oil exporting nations,” Mr Munyes said.
Tullow oil Chief Executive Officer Paul McDade commended President Kenyatta for supporting oil production in Turkana.
Tullow is the Canadian firm that undertook the oil exploration.
“We thank the president for taking a personal interest in oil production in Turkana,” said Mr McDabe. According to the Petroleum ministry, the next exports will be made in Match and September next year.
Petroleum and Mining Chief Administrative Secretary John Mosonik said Kenya’s crude oil is popular in the international market because of its low Sulphur content.
Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro who was present at the flagging off ceremony said he brought a big delegation from his county to “escort their oil” at the port.
Mr Lotethiro said since his county hosts the oil fields, residents expected to get a major share of the revenues.
“We have counted all trucks transporting the crude oil from Lokichar to Mombasa and we now expect our fair share of the revenues,” Lotethiro said.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo who was also present said residents of his county offered security as the oil was being transported through their roads and also expect a share.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta saw off 185 seafarers who have been recruited by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) to work on cruise ships abroad.
The president said yesterday the Government will focus on the blue economy to create jobs for the youth.
He said the seafaring jobs were a product of a partnership with MSC, which will also see Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) access 500 seaports in the world.
“Kenya is building its capacity to explore global maritime value chains that will create many jobs,” the president said.
He announced that he was going to Japan to seek support for the establishment of a Free Trade Zone at Dongo Kundu in Mombasa.
“I am going to Japan so that we can start the Dongo Kundu project that will create many jobs,” Uhuru said.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho asked the president to meet coast leaders when he returns from Japan to discuss ways of diversifying the coast economy.
Mr Joho said the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has brought a lot of opportunities that coast people can be helped to harness.
“I am requesting the president to have a meeting with coast leaders on how to diversify the region’s economy. We need the free trade zone. It will create more employment opportunities than the port of Mombasa,” Joho said.