, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 7 – Tullow Oil plc is set to resume operations on Friday at Block 10BB and Block 13T in Northern Kenya following successful negotiations between the National, County Governments and leaders of the local community.
Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir says a mutually agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been reached that provides a sustainable way forward in resolving the security issues and community grievances.
Chirchir says under the MoU, Tullow is expected to open a field office within two months to facilitate complaints management.
The MoU also stipulates that Tullow will disclose all tenders and job opportunities to the locals and to priorities them when issuing them.
“Already Tullow has given us a full list of all workers, and has also committed to continue offering tangible benefits to local communities in the areas of employment and local tenders,” he said.
Chirchir said the social investment fund by the company has also been raised from Sh85 million to Sh170 million a year and the money will be used through the county government management to deal with the issues affecting the communities.
Tullow has about 2,100 employees in Turkana County alone and rents over 1,000 vehicles.
“We had an agreement with Tullow that they will give tenders of supplying vehicles to our youth women and they got loans to buy tracks only to find out that tenders have already been awarded to some other people, how will these women repay their loans,” said Turkana South Constituency Member of Parliament James Lomenen.
Lomenen urged Tullow Oil plc to honor the agreement and adapt to the culture of the host community.
“The suspension of operations announced last week allowed all parties to discuss and understand the complex operating environment in Northern Kenya and commit to taking the necessary action to allow exploration operations to resume,” said Deputy General Manager Sid Black.
Through the agreement, the company re-affirmed its commitment to local employment, local opportunities and transparency throughout its operations in Northern Kenya.
“As Tullow’s exploration campaign progresses and gathers pace, the number of local employees and local companies involved in our work will continue to grow,” Black said.
The company suspended its operations as a result of demonstrations by the residents demanding to be employed at the company’s sites, including Ngamia 1 and Twiga 1, which are its biggest operations.
Residents in the area had marched to the oil sites, demanding an explanation from Tullow president on the criteria the firm used to hire workers.
Recently, the company announced that the Ekales-1 wildcat, located in Block 13T had made a new oil discovery.
Results of drilling, wire line logs and samples of reservoir fluid indicated a potential net oil pay in the Auwerwer and Upper Lokone sandstone reservoirs of between 60 and 100 metres.
This is the fourth consecutive wildcat discovery, in the first oil basin opened in Northern Kenya, since drilling commenced in 2012.
The Ekales-1 well is located between the Ngamia-1 and Twiga South-1 oil discoveries and the reservoir properties at this location are similar to those previously encountered.