By PETERSON GITHAIGA
Turkana County: Residents of Turkana County want the oil and water deposits discovered in the region to benefit them as the first beneficiaries.
Speaking during the second stakeholders forum between the locals and an American oil company, ERHC Energy, in Lokichogio town, Governor Josephat Nanok said Turkana people had suffered for many years due to marginalisation by former regimes.
“The people of this region have gone through unspeakable suffering, hundreds of residents have been killed or kidnapped by Ethiopian raiders, cattle rustlers from neighbouring communities have worsened the situation and food security is far-fetched,” he said.
He added that the residents have also experienced the worst famines and survived the grimmest of droughts.
At the forum held yesterday, leaders from the region raised concerns on how their people would benefit from the oil and water deposits.
Senator John Munyes urged the oil company to consider the locals while allocating manual jobs.
“We have seen many companies hire workers from other counties while others exploit our people, a thing we are not happy about. Turkana people must be the biggest beneficiaries of their resources. They suffered alone, they should eat the most,’’ said Munyes.
Nanok urged the company to assist in reviving stalled projects in the area as a way of giving back to the community.
The residents also raised the issue of land compensation that they want the company owners to address, as well as the level of insecurity.
At the meeting, a 15-member committee to be engaging the oil company on its Corporate Social Responsibility was selected.
In a quick rejoinder, ERHC General Manager Kenya, Dr Peter Thuo, assured the locals that his company strongly believed in developing partnership with host communities.
He said the company would identify projects that can be assisted by his company, subject to available budgetary allocation.
However, Dr Thuo revealed the oil company is set to start an airborne Full Tensor Gravity Gradiometer (FTG) as a step in surveying Block 11A of oil exploration in northwestern Kenya.
He said his company wants to proceed with the oil and gas exploration process in the region as planned without hiccups, while engaging the community.
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The FTG survey is an airborne activity that aids in the structural mapping of prospective hydrocarbon basins.
Using a converted DC-3 aircraft, Bell Geospace Company, who were contracted by ERHC to do the work, will fly a dense grid of flight lines to measure small changes in gravity caused by changes in density of subsurface rocks.
“This survey method has been used successfully in Africa and contributed to the recent oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya,’’ said Thuo.
Subject to certain contingencies and governmental approvals, the survey is expected to be flown through this summer as per the pre-determined timeline.