Kenya Sees Tullow's Local Drilling Dispute Resolved 'Very Soon'


NAIROBI, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The Kenyan government expects a dispute between Tullow Oil and residents in the northwest of the country which led to the suspension of drilling last week will be "resolved very soon", a senior official said on Tuesday.

Backed by local politicians, demonstrators from the poor, northern Turkana community marched on Tullow sites demanding more jobs and other benefits, prompting one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most experienced oil explorers to suspend work.

Tullow and its partner Africa Oil, temporarily stopped drilling operations on Block 10BB and Block 13T last week due to security concerns about the protests.

"We want to reiterate we take our investors seriously, and this matter will be resolved very soon," Martin Heya, commissioner of petroleum at the ministry of energy and petroleum, told an east African oil and gas conference.

Both Tullow and Africa Oil struck oil on the two blocks last year and are in the process of determining whether the find has commercial potential.

In July, London-listed Tullow, which is already producing oil off Ghana and awaiting Ugandan government approval to develop its finds in Uganda's Lake Albert Rift Basin, estimated resource volumes in the Lokichar Basin in northwest Kenya at 300 million barrels of crude oil.

Keith Hill, chief executive officer of Africa Oil, said the demonstrations forced the firms to stop operations, to prevent the situation escalating into violence.


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