The Senate Energy Committee has questioned why the Turkana oil project in the Lokichar area was halted after the initial production that was trucked to Mombasa for exports.
The Senator Wamatinga committee included Vice Chair Senator William Kisang, Senators Danson Mungatana, Mohamed Abass, Oburu Odinga, Dr. Boni Khalwale, and James Lomenen.
Since the discovery of oil in the area a decade ago, Kenya has not been able to start commercial production, with the project suffering multiple delays.
Early this year, Africa Oil and Total exited the project, leaving Tullow Oil as the sole owner of the project that was expected to start production in 2020.
According to Senators, Tullow Oil suspended part of its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted most of their plans.
Tullow Oil in June submitted Field Development Plan (FDP) to EPRA which is expected to pave the way for the commercialization of blocks 10BB, 13T and 10BA in the South Lokichar Basin.
The energy regulator and the Ministry are expected to pass a decision in September, even as the company continues to look for a strategic investor.
Tullow Oil's external affairs manager Franklin Juma told senators the need for government support in enhancing security, creating a conducive business environment, expediting the review of the FDP, and improving relations between the West Pokot and Turkana Communities.
According to the committee, the missing payment to the county government of Turkana, and the local community after a sale of the first shipment was raised during the meeting.
The company stated that they had not reached the commercial phase, and the two initial shipments were for testing purposes, with the proceeds used to cover drilling costs.
“A longstanding challenge faced by Tullow Oil has been its failure to actively engage with the local community in its operations. This lack of involvement has bred grievances and dissatisfaction among the local population, who often feel excluded from the potential benefits of oil exploration and production,” Senators noted in a statement.
“Why were we not involved in the sale of our oil?" questioned James Lomenen, Turkana County Senator.
Senator Lomenen stressed the significance of community engagement in fostering positive relationships and ensuring sustainable development.