In March 2012, the then Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki announced that oil had been discovered in Turkana County after exploratory drilling by Tullow Oil.
The first basin in Northern Kenya was opened with drilling commensing in the Ngamia-1 well early 2012.Drilling has also been going on in Twiga South-1 well.
In June 2013 Tullow estimated a flow rate potential of 5,000 barrels a day based on Ngamia-1 and Twiga-South-1, and estimated combined mean associated resources for the discoveries were 250 million barrels of oil. The newest discovery was Ekales-1 well in September 2013, which raised the possible average production to 300 million barrels in all its three wells.
Conservationists have however cautioned that oil drilling may have a negative impacts on the high and unique biodiversity found within the Lake Turkana and in the adjacent riverine forests . The drilling may also affect the two National Parks in tha ares that is, Sibiloi and South Island. The area is generally a fragile ecosystem and therefore any disturbance would lead to environmental degradation.
In July 2013 pastoralists rejected a proposal by Tullow to move to a new exploration site at Twiga 2 oil site in Lokichar basin in Turkana South district .Turkana elders claimed that the ongoing oil exploration in the region has interfered with pasture land and that pasture for their animals will be decimated. The elders demanded more consultations before Tullow oil is given an ok to explore oil in more wells in the region.
In October 2013 the local communities begun protesting against the project, claiming that they are not benefiting from it. They held demonstrations and closed roads leading to the oil wells. Residents complained that the Tullow is not offering employment opportunities to them and they do not see any benefit from the oil drilling.
In response Tullow said that almost half of their employees are locals, though this mostly comprises of causal labourers. Currently, drilling operations have been suspended at the site due to security concerns following the protest by residents demanding for more jobs.