Senators have raised questions over the operations of Tullow Oil Company in the country with residents of Turkana County saying they are yet to benefit with the firm’s presence in the country for the last 13 years.
Turkana Senator James Lomenen told members of the Senate Energy Committee who visited the company premises in Lokichar area yesterday that the host community was still suffering despite having the precious crude oil worth billions of shillings within their vicinity.
Lomenen told the committee chaired by Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga that the community was yet to get its five percent share while the Turkana County government was yet to get its 20 percent share from the proceeds obtained by the company after it gets crude oil from the area.
“I would like to tell the Senate Energy committee that the local community has not been involved in the activities of Tullow Oil neither have they benefitted with its presence in this region, the locals have not been compensated for the land occupied by the company,” said Lomenen.
The Turkana Senator said that the local leaders have not been engaged by the company leadership neither have they been told about the cost of the project which will set a standard for them to demand for their fair share of earnings from oil exploration exercises which they thought would change their lives.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said that research done showed that Turkana County has the potential of producing 585 million barrels of crude oil and that it would most likely make Sh52 billion and that the financial benefits for the people of the local community and the entire country should be known.
Khalwale said that government engineers need to be part of the team carrying out the exploration exercise so that they can give the true operational standards of the company since at the moment the company activities were shrouded in a mystery and nobody can confirm the true position.
“We would like to know how the people of Turkana and the entire country will benefit by having the oil exploration exercise by Tullow Oil in the country, this company must come out clearly and tell us how our people are going to benefit while it is in the country, this should be clear to all,” said Khalwale.
Wamatinga said that the financial soundness of Tullow Oil Company was shrouded in a mystery while there are no details of the crude oil that had already been sold by the company while there was little public participation in its activities matters which he said are of great concern.
The Nyeri Senator said that his committee will liaise with the relevant government agencies to ensure that the discovery of oil in the country does not turn into a curse for the local residents who felt that the project was not benefiting them since the company set up its operations in the country in 2010.
The committee Chairman said that they will be looking for the best practices globally in oil exploration and that they would also like to know the strategy the company is putting in place to attract funding from international finance institutions and also the validity of their operating license.
“Tullow Oil has not come out clearly on the validity of its operating license, we are also aware that some local partners withdrew due to strategic reasons, we would also follow up on the government plan to ensure the company honours its obligations to the local community and the country,” said Wamatinga.
Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana asked the company to state what it has in store for the residents of Turkana, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties where it has set up its operations and wanted to know the goodwill paid to the residents of the three counties who had a lot of expectations.
Senator Oburu Oginga wondered why the company was taking too long to carry out oil exploration asking whether it was the government bureaucracy that was slowing down its operations and that the company needs to come out clearly to state why its activities appeared to stagnate.
Tullow Oil External Affairs Manager Franklin Juma told the Senate Committee that the company was looking for international financial institutions to pump in around Sh518 million so that it can be able to achieve the targets it has set for 25 years’ strategic plan in the country.