This investigation reveals how a multi-million dollar investment from the World Bank into an oil & gas company involved in controversial drilling in Kenya went ahead, despite vocal objections from the U.S. Treasury Department, and four months after a damaging oil spill at one of the sites.

In 2015, the World Bank bought a 6.8% stake in Africa Oil Corp, a Canadian based oil and gas company, for CAD $65 million despite opposition to the deal by the U.S. Treasury Department. The purchase was made via a sister organisation, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, of which the U.S., as well as other nations, are shareholders. 

Four months previously hundreds of barrels of oil had leaked at one of the sites. The incident was noted by an independent monitoring group hired by the IFC to check operations run by Africa Oil Corp and partners. The group submitted regular reports from 2016 to May this year, raising concerns about the environmental and social impact of the operations. 

The findings shed light on the scale of environmental issues at stake, reinforcing the objections the U.S. Treasury Department raised before the deal was finalised, and question marks have been raised over how much the U.S. and other shareholders were told about the shortcomings.

Tulow Lokichar
Hospital built with funding from Tullow Oil (Africa Oil's partner in Kenya) in Lokichar, northern Kenya, as part of the controversial Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. (c) Maina Waruru

cover image by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Joe Casey

Joe Casey is an experienced award-winning London based TV Producer & Director and owner of Crowded Productions, a media start-up.

Maina Waruru

Maina Waruru is a print journalist based in Nairobi with over 20 years of experience in covering science and development issues.

Maina Waruru
A grant of €5,000 was awarded on 23/07/2020

Help us support independent investigative journalism.

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.