Tullow Oil has been forced to suspend
operations at its two blocks in Turkana after
locals stormed the facilities on Saturday.
Two area Members of Parliament marshalled
local residents to match to Tullow’s camps
demanding for jobs for the locals and supply
contracts for the communities.
The affected are Block 10BB and Block 13T in
Turkana East and Turkana South. Tullow Oil
and Canada’s Africa Oil Corporation each
have a 50 per cent working interest in the
two blocks.
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.
Sources said the locals were seeking to chase away
all the Tullow employees who are not locals and have
them replaced with locals. Tullow estimates that out
of the 1,700 employees at the two blocks, close to
900 are from the local communities.
“Tullow confirms that there have been a number of
demonstrations at Tullow operated sites in Northern
Kenya today regarding local concerns around
employment,” Tullow’s Nairobi office said in a
statement.
It added: “We have temporarily suspended our
operations across Block 10BB and Block 13T in
Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties. The
priority at the moment is to ensure the safety and
security of our staff.”
Tullow said those employees being moved to safety
consists of locals, expatriates from other countries
and Kenyan nationals working in the fields. The
company said it was not sure of when it would
resume work at the two sites but said it has started
discussions with both the national and county
governments to restore normalcy.
The sites are manned by armed officers from the
Admistration Police as well as unarmed guards from
New Port Africa which employs mostly from the local
communities, a Tullow official said.
Just last month, Tullow Oil announced it has
discovered oil in its Ekales well in Block 13T which
could have lead to the latest attacks.
Attempts to get a comment from the two MPs James
Lomenen for Turkana South and Nicholas Ngikol from
Turkana East were unsuccessful yesterday. Neither
were efforts to get a comment from the ministry of
energy and petroleum successful with Principal
Secretary Joseph Njoroge, who is in Rwanda for the
infrastructure summit, saying he was investigating
the matter.
The incidents bring to forth the love-hate relationship
between multinational companies and the local
communities. County governments with rich natural
resources have been lobbying to have locals
considered for most of the openings at the these
companies. Lack of necessary training however has
seen the locals only getting jobs not considered so
highly with the big jobs going to expertriates.
Tullow officials said the unfortunate incident sends a
wrong message to investors and called on the
government to intervene.

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