AFP © Getty Images/AFP/File / by Jennifer O'Mahony | Energy firms say Senegal and Mauritania's current oil and gas ventures will transform them into net exporters by 2020
AFP © Getty Images/AFP/File / by Jennifer O'Mahony | Energy firms say Senegal and Mauritania's current oil and gas ventures will transform them into net exporters by 2020

The ongoing oil exploration in Kenya’s Turkana County by the British firm, Tullow, has not adequately factored the concerns and aspirations of local communities, British charity, Oxfam International said in a study released in Nairobi late Thursday.

According to Oxfam study titled “Testing Community Consent: Tullow Oil Project in Kenya,” the company is yet to fully embrace international best practices that are critical to cement its relationship with indigenous communities in Turkana.

The study notes that Tullow Oil has not adequately complied with the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) during oil prospecting in Turkana County despite it being a pre-condition to secure financing from multilateral lenders.

“This research demonstrates that while Tullow has taken some important steps to improve engagement with project affected communities, they have yet to effectively obtain FPIC,” remarked Emily Greenspan, the Policy Manager for Extractive Industries at Oxfam America.

Oxfam study relied on testimonies from an estimated 200 community members and their leaders, grassroots campaigners, staff from Tullow Oil and local administrators to ascertain the level of engagement with indigenous farming and nomadic communities during oil exploration.

The British oil company is required to adhere to the principle of informed consent in line with the policies of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) where it obtained a loan to develop Turkana oil fields.

Greenspan said that Oxfam’s non partisan study revealed gaps in the enforcement of voluntary and prior informed consent to boost Tullow’s standing with communities where its oil prospecting activities are concentrated.

“This first independent review of the IFC’s application of its FPIC standard in practice demonstrates that both Tullow and IFC have more work to do to guarantee meaningful community participation in decision making related to this project,” said Greenspan.

Tullow Oil is preparing to ship out Kenya’s first crude oil to the export market from 2018 and has partnered with another company to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed pipeline that is expected to transport crude oil from Turkana to a seaport in the Indian Ocean coast.

Oxfam in its comprehensive study noted that oil exploration in Turkana could unleash a windfall for local communities and the country at large if carried out in a socially and ecologically conscious manner.

“Kenya’s extractive sector, particularly the oil and gas sector, is nascent and emerging, which is precisely why it is crucial to take necessary steps to avoid the resource curse,” remarked Davis Osorio, the Extractives Strategist for Oxfam Kenya.

He noted that while as new oil and mineral discoveries have potential to unleash prosperity in the country, they could as well fuel conflicts if there are no mechanisms to guide their sustainable utilization.

“Kenya has the opportunity to take a better path and consult and involve the communities likely to be impacted. Ultimately, companies also stand to benefit through a reduction in costly conflicts with communities,” said Osorio. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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