Kenyan President Kibaki announces that Oil was Found in Turkana, Kenya on March 26, 2012
From Kenya’s Daily Nation, March 27, 2012.
Tullow Oil Pic, a British Company, discovered oil in Turakana. The company has interest in over 22 countries in West and North Africa, South and East Africa, Europe, South America and Asia. The same company recently discovered the equivalence of 1.1 billion barrels of oil in Uganda but believes that Ugandan basin has an additional 1.4 billion barrels of oil. That oil was initially found in 2006, but Uganda is not expected to start refining crude until 2014, eight years after the discovery.
Tullow was paid $34 million by the Kenyan government for the exploration that led to the find.
Exploration needs to continue to determine whether the oil is commercially viable, i.e., the profits outweigh the costs. It will take between three to five years for pumping to start.
Possible oil for Kenya is predicted to be able to help the country balance its trade imbalance and struggling currency value as s oil is its major import far outweighing its exports. This discovery is creating more exploration in the country and the region, but it could turn out to be bankrupt if commercially viable deposits are not found.
The company will get the bulk of the proceeds from a discovery of commercially viable oil, 50-65% of profits, in addition to their costs covered. The Kenyan government will be responsible for distributing the rest. Under the country’s 1986 Production and Exploration Act of 1986, a small portion will go the local community where the oil is found (5%), 15% will go to Turkana County and the rest will go to the central government.
With Kenya being notorious for having some of the most corrupt politicians on the continent, it is unlikely that most of the people of Kenya will benefit much from the discovery of even commercially viable deposits of oil in their country. It is even more unlikely that the people of Turkana, the far northwest region of Kenya , where the oil was found, and one of the areas hit hardest by the most severe drought in the Horn of Africa in 60 years in 2011, most likely due to global warming which has already arrived in Sub-Saharan Africa, will suffer any benefit from this discovery. Rather, it is more likely that their rights as indigenous people to the land will be usurped and that they will continue to suffer.
Other expected negative effects are toxic releases, hydrological disruption, and acid rain generated by the petroleum extraction which has been known to damage crops and kill fish populations and military interventions by foreign powers, as in the case of Somalia, to secure supplies.
Finally, in this same region, Kenya runs wind farms which are the largest in Africa. The discovery of oil will most harm Africa and the world by allowing both to continue longer down the path of a way of life whose consequences appear to be the very destruction of the environment upon which we all depend to live, and thus human society as well. Rather than constructing sustainable and just alternatives to oligarchies, this discovery will stimulate and feed greed and corruption and the choice of short term gain over the hard work of building a sustainable and just way of life for all.