Paul Matiku

NGO wants Petroleum Bill amended to shield parks from oil pipelines

An environmental conservation NGO is seeking changes to the Petroleum Bill, saying its provisions for pipeline construction could interfere with national parks, forest reserves and monuments.

Nature Kenya has asked Parliament to amend a clause of the Bill, which is seen to give oil companies a free hand to build pipeline on any piece of public land, including those that should be protected for the national good.

Kenya plans to build a crude oil pipeline to run 865 kilometres from its Turkana oilfields to Lamu port by 2021 at a cost of Sh210 billion for commercial exports.

“The current version of the Bill allows oil and gas pipelines to go across any national government property. National government property of course includes national parks, forest reserves, heritage sites and other sites,” Nature Kenya executive director Paul Matiku says in a letter addressed to Parliament and copied to ministries of Petroleum, Environment and Wildlife.

The agency now wants MPs to amend the Bill to categorically state that national parks, forest reserves and national monuments are out of bounds in construction of such mega infrastructure.

Clause 107 of the Petroleum Bill 2017 states: “For the purpose of the production and transportation of upstream petroleum, a contractor may erect, fix, install or lay any oil or gas pipelines, other infrastructure or apparatus in, through, upon, under, over or across any public street, road, railway, tramway, liver, canal, harbour or national government property in the manner and on the conditions as provided in, this Act.”

The Bill, which also outlines revenue sharing allocations to the national government, counties and the community surrounding the oil resource, is set to be debated in Parliament this month.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other written law…, a contractor may break up any street within his area of operation, and may erect upstream petroleum infrastructure along, under or over any such street, and may, from time to time, operate, repair, alter or remove any such infrastructure so erected, laid or constructed,” the Bill adds.

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