According to analysts, Tullow Oil’s suspension of drilling in Kenya after weekend protests shows “popular impatience for a share of the spoils is compounding the problems energy firms face building an oil and gas industry from scratch in east Africa.”
Backed by local politicians, demonstrators from Kenya’s poor, northern Turkana community marched on Tullow sites demanding jobs and other benefits, prompting one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most experienced oil explorers to halt work. Grievances in the local community erupted into protests around at least two of its drilling sites, demanding more jobs and contracts.
Local populations are anxious for a windfall, but production may be years away, and such direct action is only likely to slow the region’s emergence as a significant producer, analysts said.
“We welcome them [Tullow] to Turkana. But we want to start benefiting as early as possible,” said James Lomenen, a regional member of parliament who joined the protest at Twiga South-1 site. He said he saw workers evacuated from the site. An industry source, however, described a “very tense” scene, and a senior Kenyan energy ministry official, Martin Heya, said politicians, whom he did not name, had stirred things up.
Other news reports suggested that locals had “stormed” Tullow’s facilities and that two parliamentarians had marshalled local residents to march to Tullow’s camps demanding for jobs for the locals and supply contracts for the communities. Over 2000 Turkana residents matched into the two camps in an incident that saw some looting of Tullow properties. No one was injured during the skirmish, Tullow Oil officials said.
Furthermore, Tullow Oil’s share price slipped after news broke that it temporarily suspended drilling operations in northern Kenya following demonstrations by local communities regarding concerns around employment in the Turkana region. Yesterday afternoon, Tullow was down 13p at 965.5p.
- Tullow Oil shuts down operations in Northern Kenya (theoilandgasworld.wordpress.com)
- Tullow Oil Suspends Operations In Northern Kenya (spyghana.com)
- Tullow’s Kenya drilling shutdown tempers east African oil ambitions (theglobeandmail.com)
- Oil Politics In Kenya; Let The Game Begin! (profarmsmusic.wordpress.com)
- Tullow shares fall after protests over jobs at drilling sites (independent.ie)
- Tullow Oil slides as it halts drilling in Kenya (theguardian.com)
- Tullow Oil: North Kenya Operations Temporarily Suspended (economicvoice.com)