Kenya - Court halts search for oil in Wajir

Date of publication: 
12 November 2014

A judge has stopped oil exploration in parts of Wajir County until a case by 22 residents is heard and determined.

The residents of Badada Lagbogol Division in Wajir West Constituency moved to court claiming that should the exploration start as planned, they would be displaced.

While accusing Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir of signing an agreement with three oil exploration firms without public participation, they argued that their nomadic way of life would be affected.

Their lawyer Mohammed Bulle Ahmed said the decision was illegal and that the project posed a health risk to them.

High Court judge George Odunga granted them temporary orders stopping the exploration as well as the effecting of the agreement.

The judge ruled: “The commencement of oil drilling and gas extraction activities, programmes and plans or operations of Badada Well block 2B Garse Qoftu blocks is hereby stopped until further orders of this court.”

Justice Odunga also agreed with the residents’ allegations that they faced eviction.

Being Evasive

Residents from the county had filed an urgent case protesting that the Ministry of Energy, Lion Petroleum Corporation, Taipan Resource and Cooperation Ltd and Premier Oil were being evasive with information relating to the drilling, which is expected to cover an area of 7,800 kilometres.

They claimed that the ministry had refused to explain whether due diligence or background checks were carried out.

They claimed that if exploration goes on, the Ajuran people would be moved, with a serious impact on their social and economic lives as nomadic pastoralists.

The oil exploration, they say will result in development of well pads, pipelines, airstrip access roads and other infrastructure that would lead to clearing of vegetation which is grazing land.

“We’re aware the exploration activities are projected to last for several years and cover a massive area,” said Mr Ibrahim Ali Hussein, their spokesperson.

The residents’ case will be heard on November 25.