Interview : John Munyes

What strategy does Kenya need to implement to become an oil producer and exporter?

JOHN MUNYES: Kenya is expanding its upstream discovery projections and after a number of decades of exploration, there have recently been discoveries in the northern Lokichar Basin. A variety of actors are carrying out explorations to find hydrocarbons offshore along the Indian Ocean and onshore in western counties like Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet. The discovery of oil in the north-western Turkana region has culminated in Kenya’s unofficial arrival into the global oil market. We are currently delivering 2000 barrels of crude oil from Lokichar to Mombasa for export to test how the product is accepted in the market. This operation, combined with the pipeline that will transport up to 120,000 barrels per day, means that by 2022, Kenya will be ready to start commercial crude production.

The Petroleum Bill was drafted in 2017 and has been passed by the National Assembly and is currently waiting for Senate approval. It is the legal framework that will guide future explorations and production sharing agreements between the tripartite of government, investors and local communities. Moreover, we will soon carry out f a National Geophysical Airborne Survey, which will identify all known minerals in Kenya, and allow us to fully evaluate our hydrocarbons potential.

What are the guidelines for public-private partnerships in the petroleum and mining industries?

MUNYES: The legal framework is open for investors and the government to jointly discover Kenya’s natural resources. The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining together with the National Treasury provide guidance for investors looking to start operations in Kenya. All blocs available for exploration are made public, as well as data and figures in the database of the national petroleum and mining corporation. Furthermore, with the new national Geophysical Airborne Survey, we will increase our capacity to provide accurate information.

How can local and national government work together to support actors in mining?

MUNYES: The extraction and processing of mineral and petroleum products falls under the remit of the national government, which works closely with regional administrations. These collaborations involve working with counties in 10 separate mining conferences aimed at devolving the central government’s mandate of discovering minerals, identifying the potential of the counties and attracting investors. The African Mining Vision forms the axis of the region’s organisation of corporate events and investment conferences in Kenya. The programme ensures that Kenya, as a whole, benefits from resource extraction and that the process guarantees economic development for local communities.

Moreover, the Mining Act rules that every investor should give a percentage of their profit, along with taxation and royalties, to contribute to the prosperity of the regions in which they operate. At the same time, we help counties design sustainable ways of supporting entrepreneurs to help artisans reach the level of small-scale miners. Encouraging the creation of an open and competitive market will give them the possibility to create their own cooperative structures, a process that is expected to improve and professionalise standards of the estimated 800,000 artisanal miners in Kenya.

What are the main objectives of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme programme?

MUNYES: The discovery of oil in the Lokichar basin has not been publicised internationally. So it is first necessary to use marketing tools and limited testers to introduce our oil, a particularly waxy product. The second element is the testing of technical components that include well capacity, and measure the temperatures required for future pipelines operations. Overall, this is because both governments and companies need to more deeply understand the commodity, to help them implement specific logistics and marketing strategies.