Kenya’s Oil Pipeline To Have A Biodiversity Office

Kenya will create an office in charge of safeguarding biodiversity – nature and environment – during and after construction of its proposed crude oil pipeline.

The country’s National Environment Management Authority (Nema) revealed that there would be a biodiversity officer and his/her team to prepare and implement biodiversity management plans, as part of the oil pipeline project. This will cover both land and marine flora and fauna.

“The Biodiversity Officer will liaise with key stakeholders such as Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and conservation institutions to consider all biodiversity issues, including species presence and/or movement in relation to construction schedules and associated activities,” Nema said in a notice last week inviting public views on the pipeline’s amended environment impact assessment (EIS) report.

Kenya plans to construct an 823km oil pipe connecting Turkana’s South Lokichar oilfields in northern Kenya to Lamu seaport.

The pipeline corridor will traverse six counties – Turkana, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Garissa and Lamu.

The 18-inch pipe is expected to cost about $1.1 billion and was initially scheduled to be complete by 2022 but the developers – British firm Tullow Oil and partners – ran into delays. The Covid-19 crisis has further complicated the situation, throwing plans into a tailspin and putting oilfield development on ice.

This effectively means Kenya will wait longer before the economy starts receiving petrodollar inflows.

Upon construction, the pipe is expected to pump about 80,000 barrels per day. It will be a heated pipeline designed for Turkana’s waxy and sticky oil type to enhance flow during transportation.

Presently, India’s 700km Mangala crude pipe is the world’s longest continuously heated pipeline. Should it be constructed, Kenya’s will overtake it.

In last weeks’ notice, the environment watchdog directs proper disposal of all liquid and solid wastes using approved disposal pathways during and after the pipe construction.

“As part of the development and implementation of site-specific water management plans, ensure more frequent monitoring of vulnerable community water sources in vulnerable and marginalised communities during project activities that could affect such water supplies,” the agency said.

The pipeline will be buried along its entire 823km length. There will be 16 pump stations along the pipeline route between the central processing facility (separates oil from impurities and other fluids) at Lokichar and the Lamu marine terminal. The pump stations will house oil transportation pumps used to pump oil along the pipeline.

The Lamu marine terminal will consist of an onshore crude oil storage tank farm and ancillary facilities/equipment and a load out facility to transfer crude oil to export tankers moored at the Lamu port.

Kenya has so far struck 750 million barrels of oil since 2012, considered commercially viable, with its South Lokichar oil basin jointly developed by British explorer Tullow Oil, Africa Oil of Canada and French major Total.

In 2018, the developers picked British firm Wood Group to design the Turkana-Lamu crude pipeline, also known as a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract while engineering works tender for oil production went to Australia’s Worley Parsons.

Read also: Inside Malaysia’s ‘Clean-Tech’ Coal Power Plant

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