Turkana oil transport trial begins
July 30, 2016: Kenya's first oil truck leaves Turkana, marking the beginning of transport trials as Kenya moves closer to becoming an oil-producing country. Tullow Oil Company says it will transport crude oil by road for the very first time under the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) from Lokichar in Turkana to Mombasa. The oil will be transported on two trucks and this will later rise to 20 trucks after the upgrade of the road is completed.
"The company will have two trucks that will transport oil from Lokichar to Mombasa to check for logistics. Our aim is to test its reaction to different temperatures and to understand the amount of time it will take to get the oil to Mombasa," said Tullow's Communications Officer Dennis Okore. Tullow said the trucking is a trial to check on the process and the logistics, but the real transportation of early oil will start next year. "This is just a trial version to check on the pressure, temperatures, viscosity and how much the refinery will take," said Okore.
He added that the development process will start next year after the Nadapal-Eldoret road is tarmacked. "The road will be used by the trucks carrying oil to Eldoret. The oil will then be transported to Mombasa via train," Okore said. Kenya changed its strategy for transporting oil after Uganda pulled out of an earlier plan to build a joint pipeline. Uganda instead chose to build its pipeline in partnership with Tanzania. This left Kenya on its own to build its pipeline alone. But before the pipeline is completed, the country decided to start transporting its early oil by road. This is what has led to today's events.
Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau told The Standard that the plan was to transport the crude oil from Turkana to Eldoret by road for onward train travel to Mombasa. "This is not the first time this is happening in the world," Kamau said in an earlier interview, adding that the Government plans to build the road to Lokichar. The crude oil is expected to be stored in Mombasa until sufficient quantities for export are met. But it is too early to celebrate because Kenya is far away from starting commercial production of oil. This is expected to start in 2020.