Implementation of Lokichar- Lamu Crude Oil Pipeline project has finally kicked off after years of delays. The construction, which was to begin in 2019, was set for completion in June 2022.
According to media reports, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on March 9, 2021 put out an invite for public participation on the project.
As originally planned by Toyota Tsusho, the pipeline will transverse six counties including Turkana, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Garissa, and Lamu. The pipeline will originate in South Lokichar Basin, in Turkana County and end at Port Lamu on the Indian Ocean.
Initially, Kenya had partnered with Uganda to export Kenya oil through a joint pipeline to Port Lamu. Things did not work out as planned and the Kenyan government decided to build its own pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu.
According to Lapsset Corridor Development Authority (LCDA), the project’s Pre-Front End Engineering Design (FEED) studies were done in 2015. The Front-End Engineering Designs (FEED) and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies were completed in 2019.
In 2016, Tullow Oil plc indicated that it would sign an agreement with the Kenyan government to implement the project. The construction cost was budgeted at Ksh.210 billion.
In 2017, Tullow Oil discovered more oil deposits in the Turkana oil fields and announced plans under which the project would undergo an environmental and social impact study along with further studies of the oil reserves.
In January 2018, the oil giant Total, which owns rights to some of the oil fields in the South Lokichar Basin, joined the pipeline project.
The Canadian firm Africa Oil also joined the project in April 2018, the Kenyan government then chose the British firm Wood Group to design the pipeline.
In June 2019, the Kenyan government signed an agreement with Tullow and Total to build a crude oil processing facility at the South Lokichar Basin fields.
The survey of the pipeline route began in July 2019, but encountered delays in acquiring land and obtaining permits which slowed the progress of the project.
As reported by Global Energy monitor, Wood Group presented Tullow and Total with two different options for the pipeline in November 2019: a pipeline with onshore storage facilities, at a cost of $1.2 billion, or a pipeline with floating storage facilities, at a cost of $1.1 billion.
The pipeline would be 18 inches, would cover a distance of 824 km, and would have a capacity of 65,000 barrels per day, expandable to 80,000.
In June 2020, the project hit a roadblock again when the Kenya Defense Force (KDF) demanded an overhaul of the pipeline, saying it was encroaching on its land.
In response to concerns, project partners undertook a revision of the pipeline route following a meeting between KDF and the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority (LCDA).