West Pokot has agreed to supply water to the Turkana oil wells allowing the government to now move to the anticipated full-field development of the Lokichar basin.
On Monday, Petroleum and Mining Secretary John Munyes hinted at a deal with West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo to tap water from the county for use in the large-scale drilling for oil in Turkana.
“I want to thank Professor Lonyangapuo for the water from West Pokot, which will go a long way in providing a critical input as we go into full-field development. I promise that by 2020, the plans will be in place to enable construction of the pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu to transport the crude oil,” Mr Munyes said yesterday during the launch of the first Sh1.2 billion ($120 million) early oil shipment.
The use of water from Turkwel, which is just short of 100 kilometres from the Lokichar basin, has been on the cards for some time after it emerged that the underground water resources discovered in Turkana are located at a longer distance from the oilfields.
Turkwel river which feeds the Turkwel dam begins from the lush green slopes of Mount Elgon and traverses north Pokot as River suam to the Gorge later channeled through the turbines then released to flow down the Turkana plains joining River Weiwei at Nakwamoru on the Turkana side then empties into the World's largest desert lake, Lake Turkana.
In return for the ‘favor’ Prof Lonyangapuo asked for a share of the oil proceeds for West Pokot residents during the launch of the crude shipment.
“The people of West Pokot also provided security for the trucks which were ferrying the crude to Mombasa. We are waiting for the ribs of that goat. Let other people take the steak, the skin, the head and other parts but ensure we have the ribs,” the governor said yesterday in Mombasa.
Water is needed in large quantities to force the underground oil upwards. A scarcity of the commodity, coupled with tussles over land ownership in the oil-rich Turkana County, have been the twin obstacles that have seen British exploration giant, Tullow Oil, postpone signing of the critical Final Investment Decision.
It is only after signing of the FDI that more capital will be pumped into the project to scale it up to the commercial development stage.
The government is now expected to midwife the land ownership row which went to court earlier this year before it can tap the Sh150 billion ($1.5 million)-a-year revenue anticipated under the commercial crude oil production.
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company, which uses the Turkwel water to produce power, will also have to be involved to ensure electricity production is not compromised.
The Turkwel Hydroelectric Power Station, also Turkwel Dam, is an arch dam on the Turkwel River about 76 km (47 mi) north of Kapenguria in West Pokot County, Kenya. The dam serves several purposes to include hydroelectric power production, irrigation, tourism and fisheries.