Interview with Chief Executive Officer, National Oil Corporation of Kenya

March 21, 2014 | Interview with Regional Executives

Sumayya Hassan-Athmani is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Oil Corporation of Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree from Lancaster University, a Master of Laws degree in Commercial Law from the University of Bristol, UK and is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

She joined the National Oil in 2004 as the Company Secretary and Legal Affairs Manager from private law practice where she worked as a commercial and conveyance attorney and later appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer,  then Acting CEO before being confirmed to the position in 2011. During her tenure as CEO, the National Oil Corporation of Kenya has registered a number of major successes in the upstream, midstream and downstream segments of the petroleum business and was declared the Africa National Oil Company of the Year in 2011.

The National Oil Corporation of Kenya is a state corporation under the Ministry of Energy charged with participation in all aspects of the petroleum industry. National Oil was born out a need by the Government of Kenya to have greater control of the petroleum sector which is a crucial determinant of the country’s economic performance.

Mrs Sumayya Hassan Athmani, welcome to Nogtec interview with regional executives and thank you for granting our request for this opportunity.

Sumayya Hassan Athmani: Its my pleasure to welcome Nogtec team and well done for the good work. My pleasure always.

Kenya’s vision 2030 aims at turning the country into a middle income country in the next 18 years. To what extent will Kenya’s oil discoveries help meet this target?

Sumayya Hassan Athmani:  Kenya’s oil discoveries, if confirmed to be commercial, will certainly help to drive the wheel of economic transformation towards Vision 2030. Petroleum is the single largest import by Kenya, accounting for 21% of the country’s total imports. Own production will certainly help in management of the balance of payments and stemming loss of foreign exchange. A commercial discovery would also spur a whole new economic sector and industrial development which will serve to enhance realization of the Vision 2030.

How can the region’s governments cooperate and harmonise their plans for processing and transporting infrastructure in the sector?

Sumayya Hassan Athmani: The East African Community which consists of all the five states in East Africa, with South Sudan and Somali also having shown interest, to join the block presents a good avenue for driving regional partnerships for infrastructure development. In this respect, there is already in place a regional refinery development plan albeit that it needs to be revised in light of the recent trends in the region while there is already discussion of a LNG gas pipeline from Tanzania to serve countries in the region. The LAPSSET project which is being championed by Kenya is also aimed at regionally integrating petroleum and transport infrastructure.

Kenya’s skilled workforce and geographical location places the country in a strong position to become an oil industry hub, is Kenya’s government and industry ready to maximise the value that can be obtained out of this resource?

Sumayya Hassan Athmani: Vision 2030 clearly articulates that Kenya shall be a regional hub for different services. In this respect, the National Oil Corporation of Kenya is working towards positioning the Kenyan Coast as a regional and ultimately global petroleum logistics trading hub and is already working on a project to set up one of Africa’s largest petroleum tank farms and offshore import terminal in Mombasa with sites also set on developing the petroleum infrastructure for the upcoming port of Lamu. In addition, National Oil is working towards positioning Kenya as Africa’s oil and gas upstream services hub to support the growing E&P programmes in East, Central and Southern Africa. In this respect, National Oil is already working towards setting up a seismic processing centre, modern data centre with a visualization facility as well as a modern geochemical laboratory. National Oil is also looking to work with the Government of Kenya to drive an ambitious capacity building programme aimed at ensuring more Kenyans get the requisite skills for driving Kenya’s and East Africa’s fledgling oil and gas upstream sector.

What are the immediate obstacles to Kenya’s oil industry?

Sumayya Hassan Athmani: The biggest obstacle remains inadequate and aged infrastructure, which presents significant bottlenecks to the effective distribution of petroleum in Kenya. In addition, there is need for extensive capacity building to provide the skills that will be required for driving the oil and gas industry forward.

Mrs Sumayya Hassan Athmani, thank you for your time and hosting a very successful conference.

Sumayya Hassan Athmani: Thank you for having me and do come again to Kenya.