In 2012, Kenya began oil exploration activities in the Ngamia-1 well. The drilling was successfully conducted by Tullow oil. This further led to successful oil exploration in the South Lokichar Basin at Amosing, Twiga, Etuko, Ekales-1, Agete, Ewoi, Ekunyuk, Etom, Erut and Emukuya. Propositions have been made to the Kenyan government by Tullow and its joint venture partners for the development of the Amosing and Ngamia fields as the foundation stage of the South Lokichar development. This stage intends to employ an export pipeline, and a Central Processing Facility. The Early Oil Pilot scheme (EOPS) involves trucking oil from South Lokichar basin in Turkana County to the Kenya Petroleum Refineries (KPRL). The EOPS agreement is between the Kenyan government and the Joint Venture Partners and was signed on March 2017.
The inhabitants of Turkana county complain of livestock deaths and human illnesses believed to be linked to silicate waste from oil fields. It was further reported that the members of the local community in Turkana are suffering from respiratory diseases caused by a pungent smell emerging from the oil fields. In addition to this, the locals have raised concerns with respect to waste management. The proposed dumping sites for oil waste contain springs, endemic bird species, water bodies, and vegetation.
Oil exploration and exploitation activities have a number of implications on the environment. In Nigeria, petroleum exploration has set off adverse effects on the environment. Tracts of mangrove forests have been destroyed leading to the degradation of the environment and loss of traditional livelihood of the region. In addition to this, pollution as a result of petroleum exploration activities has affected weather conditions, soil fertility, aquatic habitats, and wildlife. Precaution is taken with regards to the waste management process in oil related activities. Among the waste released into the environment include, drilling mud and drill cuttings. Chemicals and other fluids are also used during the production process. Despite the precaution taken, accidents do occur, often due to human error and equipment failure. Oil spills have majorly occurred through accidental discharges caused by equipment failure, malfunction and corrosion of machine parts. Oils spills have been reported to cause death of flora and fauna. Oils spills have adverse effects to both the ecosystem and human beings. For instance, oil spills in water bodies prevent aeration and lead to death of marine organisms. Fish may also ingest the oil or food contaminated with oil and as such considered unfit for human consumption. Oil spill on the land could lead to retardation of vegetation and may be a potential fire hazard.
There is an established nexus between development and environment. Sustainable development requires the efficient use of resources; these also include natural resources, to cater for both present and future needs. Poor management of natural resources likely results into degeneration of the environment deeming it (environment) unfit for both human beings and the ecosystem. Oil exploration and exploitation have a number of benefits to the economy. It is evident that countries have managed to generate revenue which positively impacts the economy. However, the devastating effects of petroleum exploration activities on man and the ecosystem outweigh the benefits obtained.
By Christine Agiso