Oil and Gas Exploration and Sustainable Environmental Management in Oil Block 13t South Lokichar Basin, Turkana County, Kenya
Mugendi, Kariuki David
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Commercial oil and gas was discovered in Kenya in 2012. Few academic studies have been done on the effects of the mentioned discovery to the environment.The oil and gas resources are expected to transform the economic wellbeing of the locals and the nation at large.However,land degradation, environmental pollution and socio-economic problems have always ensued oil and gas exporation ventures globally.This study aimed at determining the effects of oil and gas exploration on biophysical and socio-economic environments in Oil Block 13T South Lokichar Basin,Turkana South-subcounty and come up with sustainable environmental management strategies in the oil fields.The specific objectives were to review,constitutional,policy,legal and institutional framework governing environmental management in the backdrop of oil and gas exploration in Kenya and determination of oil and gas exploration effects on biophysical and socio-economic environments in the study area.The study adopted an exploratory mixed method research design.Purposive non-probability sampling was applied in determining the study area,sampling the boreholes,sampling the drill cutting samples and sampling the key informants.Probability sampling was used in identifying the manyattas,households and the villages for conducting focused group discussions.Questionnaires,documents review, photography,observation,landsat satellite imageries acquisition and analysis,laboratory analysis using XRF and AAS machines, for drill cuttings and water samples respectively to determine the levels of physicochemical properties were the data collection methods used.The questionnaires were coded into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 20.0 software and Excel 10.0.Descriptive and inferential statistics were used in data analysis.The study identified several gaps in the existing environmental policy and legal framework in relation to the oil fields environmental management coupled with poor enforcement of the laws by the relevant agencies.In addition, the study observed a decline in NDVI from 1 to 0.4329 for the rainy season and 0.4107 to 0.1217 jfor the dry season between 2006 and 2017 with a p-value of 0.0091< 0.05 on paired T-test implying a significant change on vegetation cover.The area under forest, shrubland and grassland had significantly reduced at 90% confidence interval with a,value of,0.0718,0.0738 and 0.0609.The drill cuttings whose levels of detected heavy metals concetration for Manganese(Mn),Copper(Cu),Nickel(Ni),Iron(Fe),Calcium(Ca),Lead(Pb),were;1.58,0.21,0.05,70.4,62.57,4.58 respectively were incorrectly being managed onsite.Mn, Feand Pb concentration levels in the drill cuttings were above the WHO and USEPA recommended standards for the reserve pit.The levels of Fe,Ni,Turbidity and Total Dissolved Solids of the sampled water from the study area,were all above the prescribed WHO standards.The study noted improved socio-economic characteristics, physical and social infrastructures in the study area.70% of the respondents felt that water provision, health facilities, education facilities, employment opportunities had improved since oil and gas exploration began with a Cohen kappa coefficient of agreement of 0.608.However,challenges such as population influx,land displacement,lack of adequate engagement of the locals, gender inequalities with a Cronbach’s Alpha of reliability of 0.735, health challenges of the locals and increased number of conflicts cases since 2012 with a statistical p-value of 0.005< 0.05 were noted.The study recommends enforcement of the existing environmental legislations and development of oil specific environmental laws,adoption of advanced oil drilling and drill waste management technologies, as well as participatory environmental management approach in the oil fields.