NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Kenyan lawmakers have finished up a three-day tour of the oil production facilities in Nigeria, where they learnt tips on how to effectively prepare the country to handle oil and gas resources.
The study tour was meant to help the lawmakers keep abreast with practical means of lawmaking following the discovery of oil and gas resources in Turkana and other parts of the country, as they prepare laws to govern oil and gas resources in the country.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said Kenya chose Nigeria due to its successes and pitfalls in managing petroleum resources.
“We came to pick lessons from Nigeria especially what to do and what not to do. Our plans are to look at afresh the New Nigeria Petroleum Industries Bill, which is before the parliament. We want to look at it and see how we can modernise our Exploration and Petroleum Act,” he explained.
“What we have is a political and oil management curse. To avoid this pitfall, what we look forward to do is to ensure that oil money is used on a three win basis- for the host country, for the host community and the win for the oil company,” he added.
Compared to Nigeria, Kenya has continued to walk the long and difficult journey for nearly six decades now in its efforts to search for oil and gas deposits in its four sedimentary basins Lamu, Mandera, Anza and Tertiary Rift which have a combined surface area of about 485,000 square kilometers.
Speaking during the tour, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Energy Nicholas Gumbo said, “What we are taking home is how to share oil revenues. Most oil conflicts revolve around sharing of oil revenues and environmental protections.”
Kenya’s energy legislation – currently in the works – lays emphasis on local communities to ensure that those affected by the exploitation of this natural wealth will be effectively compensated.
The laws that govern oil resources sector came into existence in 1980, but there have been efforts to modernise the laws.
Kiraitu was part of a high-profile delegation, including the Chairman of the Parliamentary Energy Committee Eng Nicholas Gumbo, Wajir West MP Adan Duale, Labour Minister John Munyes, Turkana South MP Josphat Nanok and Turkana East MP Ekwe Ethuro.
Other government officials included the Ministry of Energy PS Patrick Nyoike, Chief Geologist in the Ministry Hudson Adambi and Camac Energy officials.
“The success of oil exploration does not come in isolation without attendant challenges,” Murungi noted.
“You will appreciate that unless properly managed, the stakeholders’ issues can bring the oil and gas operations to a disruptive halt,” he added.
Director of Department of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria Osten Olorunsola advised the lawmakers to think on areas to invest oil and gas revenue before the drilling of oil and exploitation of gas begins.
“Think where to invest oil revenue before drilling starts. By doing this you will have avoided all pitfall and conflicts that come with oil and gas money,” he urged.
He also encouraged the participation of local communities, while drafting the framework.
“What you have to keep in mind when drafting the law is communities’ participation, value additions of all oil products, environmental protection, modern oil and gas infrastructure network and avoidance of duplication of roles,” he said.
The Kenyan delegation engaged the National Petroleum Investment Management, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists and Camac Energy On-Shore drilling plant.
Camac Energy Chairman and CEO Kase Lawal told the Kenyan delegation to learn from Nigeria’s mistakes in order to develop the best policies in Africa.
“We would like Kenya to become a case study in Africa where everyone can say indeed Africa can exploit their natural resources and get it right,” he said.
However, Murungi assured oil investors that the Ministry has employed diplomacy in handling stakeholder issues via a series of meetings organized to have them put the issues on the table for an ultimate amicable resolution of the issues raised.
“It is of extreme necessity that any issues that can lead to disrupting or delaying operations must be handled expeditiously and in a manner that will assist oil companies to not be exposed to unnecessary financial risk,” he said.