Turkana County the place to be as oil fortune changes lives

By: SAMMY LUTTA

Lodwar and Lokichar towns in Turkana are bubbling with activity. The once sleepy towns in a marginalised region are now dotted with modern buildings, new housing estates, hotels and petrol stations.

The value of the once neglected land has also gone up sharply.

The face of the county, known for its harsh climate, has changed with its towns fast gaining the tag of ‘the place to be thanks to the fortunes of oil discovered in 2011.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

A plot measuring 50×50 metres is now going for between Sh300,000 and Sh400,000 depending on location. This is a big jump from 2011 when the same land was sold at Sh80,000 and Sh50,000 in 2009.

Discovery of oil has opened up the area as the many investment opportunities continue turning pastoralists into businessmen.

Tullow Oil, the British company that has been exploring oil in Turkana, in its January-September 2015 Operational Update report, noted Turkana-based companies and its contracted firms supplied it with goods worth Sh626 million between January and June this year.

During this period, Tullow bought goods and services worth Sh4.3 billion, 80 per cent of which were supplied by Kenyan companies.

TULLOW OIL

Tullow which has now drilled 30 wells and discovered an estimated 600 million barrels of oil in Turkana is now moving towards the pre-development stage in its oil exploration venture in the South Lokichar Basin.

“This stage follows successful exploration and appraisal campaigns that discovered commercial volumes of oil and is associated with considerably reduced field activities. However, operations continues in other parts,” states the report.

Tullow is conducting Extended Well Testing (EWT) at Amosing and Ngamia oil fields to help gather critical data that will be used in the development and planning for the phase 1 of South Lokichar Project.

Tanks have been constructed on the site for storing the 60,000 barrels of oil being produced through EWT.

According to the report, the process will also provide an understanding of the reservoir characteristic, a key input in the design of production facilities including the pipeline from well to the Central Processing Facility (CPF).

It will also determine the vessel and pump size at the CPF which provides information on formulating cost estimates .

TURKANA TRADE FAIR

The forthcoming Turkana Trade Fair and Investment Conference to be addressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attract investors to explore more opportunities including aviation, fishing, tourism, archaeological studies and irrigation by utilizing discovered underground water.

County director of trade James Lokwale says the investment forum is expected to attract more than 1,500 exhibitors.

According to him, the recent formation of North Rift Economic Bloc will give the forum the much-needed impetus to pull investors.

The economic bloc signed in Nairobi last week by the eight North Rift governors seeks to harmonise legislation and taxation with a view to making the doing business easy.

“We need support of the private sector to achieve the goals outlined in the County Integrated Development Plan with several flagship projects that include establishment of a university, an international airport, a modern sports stadium and irrigation of over 15, 000 hectares,” said Mr Lokwale.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION