KAMPALA: Uganda launches its first commercial oil drilling program on Tuesday. The country began digging its first production and commissioning the first of its four planned oil rigs. It marks an essential step in the Nation’s drive to begin oil production in 2025.
The country of East Africa found commercial petroleum deposits around 20 years ago, but production has been continually delayed due to a lack of infrastructure, such as pipelines.
The event marking the beginning of the drilling program for producing wells was held at the Kingfisher project area in the Kikuube district on the shores of Lake Albert in the west of Uganda.
Speaking at the event President Museveni reaffirmed that the government is committed to using oil and petroleum resources responsibly for a long period, given that the nation has the necessary capacity and industry knowledge.
In addition, he praised Ugandan scientists for finding oil resources in 2006, following a British attempt in 1920, which he claimed saw oil pouring to the surface at Kibiro but later claimed had evaporated following the findings of the commissioner of Geology by then.
The president recalled that in 1986, a group of Shell Vice President experts approached him and asked to sign an agreement regarding oil exploration in Uganda. He refused because the government at the time lacked any individuals knowledgeable about oil.
The president thanked the partner corporations for investing in Uganda’s oil sector with their expertise and capital. However, Museveni asked Ugandans to practice agriculture and create food that would be eaten by people working in oil fields.
The Vice President of Uganda, Jessica Alupo referred to the event as a milestone in Uganda’s history. Ruth Nankabirwa, the minister of energy reaffirmed the part that oil corporations play in ensuring the nation accomplishes the goal.
She stated that the refinery project is still making good progress and that the Albertine Graben Energy Consortium undertook front-end engineering and design, which was authorized by the government in July 2022. She also mentioned that the environmental social impact assessment study is almost finished.
According to Chen Zhuobiao, the president of CNOOC Uganda Limited, the event held on Tuesday was a milestone and a significant step towards Uganda producing its oil by 2025.
Some government critics and environmental activists have claimed that the pumping and transportation of oil will result in extensive evictions and threaten the environment.
Earlier, President Museveni had ordered construction at Luwero Industries Limited-built Kingfisher oil management, waste management, treatment, and disposal facility.
Kingfisher is one of China’s CNOOC’s two commercial oil development projects in Uganda. France’s TotalEngeries runs the second project area, Tilega.
The Kingfisher Development area is roughly 344 km2 and is situated south of Lake Albert in the Kyangwali Sub-county of the Kikuube District. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is in charge of running the facility.
On September 12, 2022, the drilling rig, LR8001 arrived in Mombasa. It was then transported in bits by 280 trucks to the Pad-2 site in the Kikuube district of western Uganda. After third-party inspections, its construction and installation work was finished in November 2022.
According to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the Albertine Graben is home to close to 6.5 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves in Uganda. At a peak production rate of around 230,000 barrels per day, the nation anticipates recovering about 1.4 billion of the 65 billion barrels.
The event of launching the oil drilling program in Uganda witnessed another great initiative of the nation. The project East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) license was handed out by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in front of President Museveni.
In order for EACOP to formally begin on-the-ground construction activities in Uganda as part of the development, the necessary license was granted on Tuesday.
The EACOP project is a project starting from Kabaale, Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani Tanga in Tanzania, a 1,443 km, 24-inch diameter insulated and underground crude oil pipeline. The handing over of the license was performed by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nanakabirwa.
Following the submission of the application on July 1, 2022, the ministry approved the license after determining that it complied with section 10 of the Petroleum Act of 2013, Regulation 59 of the Petroleum Act 2016, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Special Provisions Act of 2021.
The Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), and the licensed upstream oil companies Total Energies (62% shares), CNOOC Uganda (8%), and UNOC (15%) are heading the development of the EACOP project in Uganda.
Earlier this month, the EACOP Managing Director stated that they are three-quarters of the way through the land purchase process, which he claimed was partially slowed down by the current Ebola lockdown, particularly in the Mubende district, one of the places through which the pipeline is to traverse.
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