The Kenya Oil and Gas working group (KOGWG) has written to the national environmental management agency (NEMA) asking for more caution as Zarara Oil and Gas prepares to drill the Pate 2 well in Block L4 terming the area as both environmentally and socially sensitive according to the report acquired by OilNews Kenya.
According to a report compiled by the Kenya Oil and Gas working group proposed exploratory drilling project in blocks L4 and L13 a number of sensitive areas have been identified with the report recommending policy recommendations with the logic that early identification of possible impacts ‘promotes environmental sustainability in that anthropogenic factors do not interfere with natural environment but blends with it creating harmony.’
The Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group says that by highlighting key environmental concerns, as well as the social implications, the recommendations target to engage key stakeholders in supporting policy measures required for a responsible development.
Among the identified stakeholders include among others; project affected communities, citizens and the civil society organizations through which they organize; private sector, development partners, the various cross-sectoral government ministries and departments responsible for policies and decision making towards managing environmental and social issues associated with oil and gas exploration.
Among environmentally and socially sensitive areas identified include: important biodiversity habitats, coastal and terrestrial habitats as well as culturally and economically significant areas likely to be affected by the drilling.
The report recognizes that the two blocks under Zarara Oil and Gas (blocks L4 and L13) overlap 8 IUCN protected areas of which three (3) are National reserves, five (5) are community nature reserves . In total, block L13 bares 1,494 sq.km while block L4 accounts for 891 sqkm cumulative threat areas on protected areas accordingly.
The report continues to state that the exploration activities in the two blocks are envisaged to pose much threat to key marine features that are critical to the blue economy, to the very dense natural assets key among them: mangroves; coral reefs; sea grass; forests; wetlands and exploration and production activities have potential to directly or indirectly affect the community and national reserves through loss of natural assets as the acreage covers key terrestrial and coastal protected areas.
Other risks and threats from exploration according to the report include: pollution, increased pressure of land from immigration, land conflicts, labor issues, loss of breeding grounds among others if the issues are not tackled beforehand.
Among policy recommendations from the report include: undertaking a comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Stakeholder consultation ESIA key issues and concerns, Mitigation strategies may include strict control mechanisms within environmentally or biologically significant marine and protected areas by regulators and observing the highest standards of Occupational, Health and Safety.
The operator is still awaiting the NEMA license with mobilization ongoing. It is unclear as to whether the operator has received a license extension after their current license expired on June 3rd.The company has been operating on another 18 month extension granted in January last year.
The Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGW) advocates for sustainable development and good governance of Kenya’s Oil and Gas Sector.