Oil Extraction and Public Attitudes: A Conjoint Experiment in Turkana, Kenya

This study examines the impacts of economic, social and environmental consequences of oil extraction on public opinion in an economically and politically marginalised community in northern Kenya. We conduct a conjoint experiment on a sample of 801 respondents in urban and semi-urban locations in Turkana county and find that our respondents strongly support the oil extraction overall. Although priming about the environmental and social costs decreases local residents’ support for oil extraction, the decrease is so small that the community’s perception of oil extraction remains positive. However, the support is significantly higher among the respondents living in the neighbourhoods distant from oil wells in operation relative to those who live close to oil sites. In addition the responses to economic benefits of oil extraction also vary by respondents’ distance from oil wells. Contrary to the existing literature, we do not find evidence for strong resentment toward oil extraction in Turkana county.