Tullow Oil’s March 2020 declaration of force majeure on its Lokichar basin oil project was a body blow for Kenya’s nascent upstream sector.

While not entirely unexpected in the current Covid-19 and oil price environment, force majeure decisions by both Tullow and Africa Oil, one of its partners, made an already formidable project even more exacting.

The $3-billion project’s economics have always been a challenge, a situation exacerbated some years back when a plan to pipe Uganda’s oil via the Lokichar area to Lamu port in Kenya was dropped in favour of piping Lake Albert’s crude direct to Tanga port in Tanzania.