County risks missing out on an opportunity for revenue after an oil
prospecting company in the region threatened to stop operations due to
disagreements with local residents.
The company, Vanoil Energy of Canada, told a stakeholders forum at a
Garissa hotel that it is suspending prospecting for oil in Madogashe
area of the County until issues it raised with residents were ironed
The company cited the lack of community liaison members, splinter
groups and self interest among locals, and an emphasis on cash payments
instead of beneficial sustainable projects as the reasons it was
halting its operations for now.
But area leaders led by Governor Nadhif Jama have moved quickly to
ease the tension between the locals saying he will give the prospectors
his full backing to enable it strike oil.
“It’s a new beginning. If oil is found, it will change this county
for the better,” the governor said. “If oil is found I think we will see
a better county that lives in peace and prosperity.”
According to Francis Karanja, one of Vanoil’s directors, the company
planned to start drilling the first of its two exploratory wells at
Madogashe-1 on the South Anza basin in two months time at a cost of at
least Sh2.2 million.
“There is an assumption that there will be about 600 million barrels
of oil,” he said. The well recently discovered by another Canadian firm
Tullow Oil at Ngamia-1 in the Lokichar basin in Turkana County was said
to hold some 200 million barrels.
The executive however moved to cool the high hopes amongst residents
calling for sobriety until the commercially viability of the project
was confirmed. “I wouldn’t advise anyone to start counting their
chickens yet,” he said.
Lagdera MP Mohamed Shidiye in whose constituency the prospecting is
set to take place moved to dismiss claims that the area of exploration
was in neighbouring Isiolo County. “Those claims are utterly,” he said.
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