Turkana oil will take one week to reach Mombasa


A Tullow Oil exploration rig in Turkana. Kenya plans to move 2,000 barrels of oil per day by road. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Trucks that will move oil from Turkana oilfields in northern Kenya to Mombasa port this month will spend one week on the road, indicating the high cost and logistical difficulties of the early petroleum export plan.

British explorer Tullow Oil, the developer of the Turkana oilfields, Monday said the 50 trucks will be escorted by police through the remote and harsh terrain in northern Kenya to ward off any possible attacks by bandits.

The trucks will cover a distance of about 1,000 kilometres from the remote Turkana fields to the Coast for storage, pending shipment to overseas markets from June.

“It will take about one week for one truck to do a round-trip from Lokichar in Turkana to the port of Mombasa and back,” Tullow said.

The exploration firm has already pumped out and stored 60,000 barrels of crude in Lokichar ahead of transportation to Mombasa in the project’s first phase.

The stored crude stock was produced in 2015 during extended well testing.

Tullow said it will take up to 60 days to haul the stored 60,000 barrels, using convoys of up to seven trucks daily, equivalent to transportation of 1,000 barrels a day. This is half of the initial targeted volume of 2,000 barrels to be hauled a day.

“Phase two, from July to quarter four 2017, involves the installation and commissioning of an early production facility (EPF) by Al Mansoori Petroleum Services. This EPF will process approximately 2,000 barrels of oil per day,” Tullow says.

READ: Kenya oil exports loom as transport deal issued

The EPF contract will see the UAE-based Al Mansoori provide oil-well site equipment and civil works.

“Phase three, from quarter four and continue until quarter four 2019, will see the EPF produce 2,000 barrels of oil per day that will be transported to the port of Mombasa for a period of approximately 24 months.”

The road trucks will be mounted with tanktainers (transport containers), each with a capacity to carry 150 barrels of crude.

The Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas reckons that Kenya’s rush to start exporting crude could cost the economy a loss of more than Sh4 billion given the vast distance to be covered by special trucks.

The lobby group says that the State should instead construct a pipeline before exports.

Kenya plans to move 2,000 barrels of oil per day by road, in the absence of a pipeline, to be stored at Changamwe refinery tanks in Mombasa.

This will allow small-scale oil exports — 2,000 barrels per day — from June to test the receptivity of the oil in the global markets, pending construction of the Sh210 billion pipeline by 2021 to cover 865-kilometres.

Nairobi-based Primefuels Ltd bagged the tender to supply 100 tanktainers, which have special features to keep Turkana’s waxy and sticky oil heated to enable flow into storage tanks at the port.

Suppliers of trucks include Kenyan firms Multiple Hauliers (EA) Ltd and Oilfield Movers Ltd.

The two companies will each provide 25 trucks.

China and India have emerged as the main buyers of the Turkana crude oil. The Indian route offers the lowest freight cost for Kenyan crude at $2.50 per barrel (Sh257).

Kenya dropped its earlier target market in Europe, citing distance as an impediment and Suez Canal passage costs.

Kenya’s crude oil is classified as light and sweet, meaning it has less Sulphur — an impurity that has to be removed before crude is refined into petroleum.

It is however waxy and sticky, making it necessary to heat it during transportation.

Kenya has so far struck 750 million barrels of oil, considered commercially viable, with ongoing exploration indicating the figure is likely to cross the one billion mark.