Construction of the Lokichar to Lamu crude oil pipeline whose implementation was set for 2020 will be delayed until the end of the year due to land acquisition issues.
The 820km pipeline, which is a key component of the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lappset) corridor project, is facing challenges related to land compensation.
The pipeline which will cut through Turkana, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Garissa and Lamu counties, will transport crude oil from the South Lokichar Basin, to the Port of Lamu, on the Kenyan Coast.
Speaking during a tour of the Lamu port, Petroleum and Mining CS John Munyes said his ministry is working closely with the Lapsset to acquire land for the pipeline before the end of the year.
He said they are also engaging communities along the corridor —from Lamu, Garissa, Meru, Isiolo, Samburu and Turkana — on land acquisition.
“Processes are in top gear to acquire the land to lay the pipeline. We are engaging the local communities along the corridor over the same. That’s the condition,” he said.
“We will have to wait until we get the land, and the private sector comes in and the government puts money to lay the pipeline, that’s exactly when we will kickstart the project. We expect to finalise all the processes before the end of the year.”
The CS also said the government plans to invest Sh25 billion in building a pipeline for natural gas from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa and Nairobi.
He said a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed and that work will start soon.
“We are laying a pipeline from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Mombasa and later, lay another pipeline all the way to Nairobi. Companies that have taken the designs are planning and processes will be finalised by the end of this year. We expect the pipeline to start by next year,” said Mr Munyes.
He said the Dar es Salaam-Mombasa-Nairobi natural gas pipeline is a game-changer to the region, noting that it will lower the prices and help the government acquire cheaper and environmentally-friendly energy.
“Even the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) might use the same gas in future. The plan is going to cost the government Sh25 billion and might be privately financed,” said Mr Munyes.
The Government of Kenya entered into a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with the Kenya Joint Venture (KJV) comprising Tullow Oil Kenya B.V., Africa Oil Kenya B.V. and Total Oil for the development of the Lokichar to Lamu crude oil export pipeline.
A series of meetings between officials undertaking the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the pipeline project and various stakeholders were organised between 2019 and 2020 to update on major issues surrounding the same.
Stakeholders interviewed by Shipping and Logistics expressed optimism that the pipeline will be a huge economic game-changer especially for all the six counties where it will cut through.
Abdulrahman Ali, a youth leader in Lamu said the pipeline project will be key in resolving unemployment in the region and urged for a speedy implementation.
“We are aware the pipeline is a sub-component of the upcoming new Lamu port which will open up the region to more trade and investment. They should speed up its implementation so that we youth can get employed,” said Mr Ali.
Lamu Council of Elders chairman Sharif Salim said such projects help to bring an end to marginalisation that Lamu has faced for the past 58 years since independence.
Mr Salim however urged the state to ensure all concerns are mitigated or avoided altogether.
“We are asking the government to take our concerns as a community seriously. There will be need or mitigation along the way, some aspects will have to be foregone altogether. We also want anybody who will be displaced to be fully compensated,” said Mr Salim.
The crude oil pipeline supports one of the key pillars of economic development and is expected to reinforce the Vision 2030 strategy.