Invigorating Kenya’s absorptive capacity for health, safety and environmental technology in the upstream petroleum sector
Health, safety and environmental concerns have accompanied oil and gas operations in fields across the world. The rise of digital technology and its successful application across various industries has presented hope for the identification, prevention and mitigation of traditional upstream concerns. While there is rapid development of technological innovations geared towards making oil fields safer, improving efficiency and increasing compliance with environmental regulations, their deployment within the African oil and gas sector is disappointingly low. Financial constraints, lack of awareness of the technology’s existence and apprehension at making the digital leap have already been blamed for the low uptake. This thesis traces the low deployment of HSE technology to legal and institutional gaps, arguing that the already identified factors do in fact flow from lacunas in these two fields. Employing qualitative review on the growing body of literature in relation to oilfield HSE technology, the thesis elevates technology absorption over technology transfer, demonstrating its superiority as a sustainable approach to technology acquisition. The active involvement of the recipient country in determining its upstream HSE risks, identifying technological innovations capable of addressing those needs and developing capacity to assimilate and customize imported technology are found to be particularly helpful to Kenya as both a developing nation and emergent oil producer. By evaluating the key drivers of technology absorption in terms of awareness, availability, affordability and accessibility, the study is able to identify the specific challenges constricting Kenya’s absorptive capacity to HSE technology. The legal and institutional reforms proposed in the study provide emphasis and practical means of invigorating Kenya’s capacity to absorb HSE technology in its upstream sector.