Open Government: Kenyans Have The Right To Demand Details Of Oil Contracts

The difference between the countries that have made a success of the exploitation of resources such as oil and those that have made a big mess of it is the degree of transparency in the various markets.

In settings such as Norway and Canada, the public gets to know the details of contracts signed with the firms engaged in exploration and production of oil.

The public is also given a detailed breakdown of the way in which the funds earned are spent with the Norwegian model of saving most of its earnings in a major sovereign wealth fund being seen as a model for many countries.

In other countries, there is little effort to promote transparency. Nigeria and Angola are the poster children of this approach with huge reservoirs of crude oil having yielded few benefits for the public. Only well-connected corrupt elites have reaped vast sums from the resources.

Kenya has the advantage of having been a late-comer to the game of exploitation of oil resources.

It should then follow that its leaders should learn from the experience of others and ensure the process for oil exploration and production is marked by a level of openness and transparency that prevents abuse of the process.

This is simply not the case. It is utterly unacceptable that the Petroleum Permanent Secretary Andrew Kamau should be so dismissive when asked to make public the contracts they have handed to Tullow Oil, including those involving the now controversial early export scheme.

“Would you want your employer to publish your pay slip for people to see?” the PS remarked when asked about the contracts.

Well, Mr Kamau. The public is not asking you for a favour. It is their money that will be used to transport 200,000 barrels by road to Mombasa at a cost of Sh4 billion. No profit will be made from this venture.

Tullow Oil has itself said the transportation of the crude oil to the port is not essential for the marketing process. So why is this being done?

How can the rumours that have swirled of well-connected individuals being lined up to benefit from the trucking of the oil be dispelled if basic contracts to Tullow are not revealed?

It is entirely unacceptable that such an important project should be shrouded in secrecy. Those contracts should be made public without further delay.

Read the full article here.