Kenya's new oil problem


Fishermen in Lake Turkana head out for their daily catch on August 10, 2011.


Simon Maina

Kenya has "struck oil" so what does this mean? Well, in the short term it means there will be plenty of trotting out of the tired, imponderable question of whether the windfall will be a blessing or a curse.

Given Kenya's long and ignoble history of deeply ingrained official corruption it's hard to be optimistic on this front, but perhaps in the 10 years or so before any oil is actually pumped out of Kenya's northern wastelands, the Turkana region, the country will turn over a new leaf. Or not. Or maybe oil prices will fall and the cost of drilling deep into the desert and then building pipelines over hundreds of miles of hostile land will make the extraction unviable.

More from GlobalPost: Oil found in Kenya by Anglo-Irish firm, Tullow Oil

The only clear winner in all this is the company that discovered the oil. The Anglo-American exploration company, Tullow Oil, saw its share price rise on Monday's announcement. The Turkana discovery will bolster Tullow's growing reputation as the most jackpot-lucky oil prospector in Africa. In recent years they've found huge new oil fields off Ghana and in Uganda, places previously written off by bigger operators but where high world prices have made risky exploration a worthwhile investment.