Saturday, January 10, 2009



By Samwel Kumba
Friday, January 9 2009

New move seen as a step towards cleaning up the crisis-hit oil trade

The Kenya Pipeline Company Managing Director George Okungu was on Friday evening sent on compulsory leave in sweeping changes believed to be a step towards cleaning up the troubled oil industry.

In a brief statement from State House, President Kibaki appointed the company’s chief manager in charge of finance and strategy, Mr Selest Kilinda, to be the acting MD.

The KPC chairman, Mr James Kenani, too was not spared the axe as he was replaced with another board member, Mr Samuel Maluki.

Earlier on Friday the ministry of Energy’s senior deputy secretary, Mr Paul Ngatia, had held an urgent industry meeting where he said there were ‘criminal activities’ going on at KPC.

Mr David Ohana, General Manager of Kenol, faxed a statement to newsrooms saying that KPC management had admitted that there was a scandal going on there and that the Criminal Investigation Department, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority and the Kenya Police are carrying out investigations of the scandal at the KPC premises.

The dramatic development comes at a time of turmoil in the industry where the KPC and the Ministry of Energy, on one side, have been trading accusations with the major oil companies over the real cause of serious fuel shortages since just before Christmas.

There have also been investigations into the role of the collapsed Triton Petroleum Company, believed to have sunk with billions of shillings from other oil companies and Kenya Commercial Bank after defaulting on a fuel importation contract.

The new KPC boss, Mr Kilinda, is a former Nation Media Group General Manager in charge of the Marketing and Publishing arm.

When reached for comment KACC Spokesman Nicholas Simani could however not deny or confirm their involvement in the investigations.

Future imports

Mr Ngatia, according to the statement from Kenol, had convened the meeting for the oil marketing companies to discuss the future imports under the Open Tender System owing to the worrying scam involving Triton Petroleum.

Further changes in the oil industry saw former minister and Likoni MP Suleiman Shakombo appointed Chairman Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited replacing Justus Kageenu.

Mr Kageenu was, instead moved to the newly formed Kenya Electricity Transmission Company as Chairman.

In another new company Geothermal Development limited, while Mr Paul Gondi was appointed Chairman.