KENYA: State of the Environmental Monitoring of the Upstream Oil and Gas sector

The operations of oil and gas activities pose significant ecological and social impacts related to risks/incidences of oil spills, land degradation, accidents, fire, and water and air pollution. To this end, countries with significant oil and gas activities set up robust systems for monitoring environmental and social conditions within oil and gas landscapes.

The state of environmental monitoring report of Kenya’s oil and gas sector by WWF Norway and the Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group presents a review of the environmental monitoring frameworks in the country. The report identifies potential gaps and weaknesses of the respective national monitoring frameworks and their implementation in Kenya. Specifically, the reports cover the following key elements:
Review of environmental monitoring reports of petroleum projects: Gap analysis on
monitoring and enforcement in Kenya; and Status of environmental plans in the country.

The report noted the following gaps in environmental monitoring;
1. GAPS in Monitoring: The study notes that government agencies are mandated with
periodic monitoring, but the frequency of such is not regular. The remote nature of
most oil and gas fields complicates routine monitoring because, in most cases, the
relevant government agencies are understaffed and under-resourced. Monitoring
activities are triggered by incidences or complaints that may emanate from oil and
gas activities. The agencies rely on self-monitoring reports by oil and gas
companies. Occasionally, multi-agency teams will conduct joint inspections of oil
and gas facilities.
2. Environmental Monitoring Reports: the bulk of environmental monitoring
reports available are in the form of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
reports for oil and gas projects and Environmental Audit reports. A review of some
of the reports reveals that the quality of reporting varies broadly, with severe
shortcomings in terms of adequacy of baseline data for availability. Institutions like
NEMA are mandated to undertake periodic monitoring of air quality; however, their
activities are spatially limited and have not covered oil and gas regions.
3. Environmental Plans: The study notes that environmental planning has not taken
off well since devolution. There has been generally a lag in preparing National
Environment Action Plans (NEAP) and County Environment Action Plans (CEAPs)
for the past ten years as provided under EMCA. The majority of counties have
generally failed to allocate resources to prepare CEAPS. The law also provides for
the preparation of County Spatial Plans to be the basis of all planning in the country.
To date, only four counties (Makueni, Lamu, Kericho, and Bomet) have approved
CSPs. Within the Oil and Gas counties, only LAMU has an approved CSP. A review
of the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) for counties with active oil
and gas activities reveals very little attention has been put in the sector, mainly
because such functions are not devolved.

1. Resources: Government should allocate adequate resources to lead agencies to
undertake monitoring as per their respective mandates. In active oil and gas counties, the
government should enhance the human resource capacity as well as increase the technical capacity of the institutions to undertake regular monitoring.
ii. Data: Efficacy of monitoring depends on the availability of good quality baseline data.
Data is available across various agencies, but data sharing remains a challenge due to
institutional bureaucracy. To this end, there is a need to invest in a shared database that
compiles data from different sectors and make the database accessible to government
regulatory agencies and other users who may need the data.
iii.Institutional Coordination: The different institutions mandated with monitoring need
to strengthen their collaboration, including joint monitoring regimes to maximize resource availability and expertise. The multi-sectoral coordination mechanism needs to be institutionalized to improve cross-collaboration.
iv. Environmental Planning: Plans remain a crucial instrument in environmental
monitoring, based on their ability to identify critical ecosystems, propose mitigative
measures, and allocate resources towards monitoring. To this end, there is a need to
sensitize counties to allocate resources towards environmental planning and enforcement of plan proposals. Counties should be lobbied to comply with the law and prepare the various plans as prescribed under the different acts. This will make data available for decision-making.

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