Kenya Suspends Trucking Of Crude Oil As Heavy Rains Wreck Roads


Kenya’s lead oil and gas operator Tullow Oil plc has temporarily suspended trucking of crude to Mombasa  port, over road damages attributed to heavy rains.

Heavy rains lashing East Africa have caused dozens of deaths. The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

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Local Tullow officials say it now 10 days since the company suspended the transportation.

“The roads have been impassable especially around Marich Pass where a section of the road has been completely swept off. Trucking may have to wait until the area is dry or when the road is repaired, which may take longer,” Nairobi-based Daily Nation quoted a local Tullow official on anonymity.

Kenya chose to truck its crude to the Mombasa port for international market in what it called Early Oil Pilot Scheme. The export is intended to test the international markets’ reception of Kenya’s low-sulphur oil ahead of commercial production, which is estimated to start in the second half of 2023.

Tullow has been moving the oil by road to Mombasa. It started moving about 600 barrels per day (bpd), but raised the volume to 2,000 in May.

Crude oil trucks parked at Kenya’s Mombasa port from Turkana oil fields

Analysts have already expressed doubt that the halting would hamper Kenya’s next crude shipment due March 2020.

East Africa’s economic powerhouse is aiming to double the shipment of crude oil from Turkana in the first quarter of next year.

The country had planned to ship some 500,000 barrels of crude in March 2020, twice the volume shipped during the inaugural sale in August.

Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau on Wednesday remained optimistic about the trucking plan, without delving into details of the bad weather blow to the oil export scheme.

“We have not received any report of a significant effect to the trucking plan to the March 2020 target,” Kamau said.