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Infrastructure

  • Image; Buseruka hydropower station

    Oil-rich Bunyoro remains power-poor

    The Buseruka dam will bring some electricity to rural communities, but its output is only a fraction of the 50 MW the nearby refinery complex will need (Photo: Tom White)

    Electric power is coming for the first ever time to parts of outlying Hoima District, whose underground wealth is matched by surface poverty. But the electricity generated by a small hydropower plant, which comes online in November, is only a fraction of what the proposed oil refinery will need.

    HOIMA DISTRICT: The sun disappears below the hills of oil-bearing Hoima District and darkness descends over Hoima town, bringing another long night of rumbling generators. Read More

  • oil paint by Ismael Kateregga

    Analysis: Despite ‘new’ oil, government and companies remain deadlocked over refinery; Tullow’s woes accumulate

    TOTAL MAY BE SET TO MOVE CENTRESTAGE IN UGANDA'S OIL INDUSTRY (Painting: Untitled, oil on canvas, by Ismael Kateregga)

    The international oil companies licensed to develop Uganda’s oilfields submitted a joint ‘field development plan’ to the government last Thursday, but rapid agreement on the plan is unlikely, given continuing differences over the size of the proposed refinery.

    Whilst CNOOC has made no public comment, Tullow and Total representatives say they do not object to a refinery in principle but feel that it should be a modest one, able to process 25,000-30,0000 barrels of crude per day (bpd). That would be enough to supply Uganda with petroleum products. The remaining crude, the companies say, should go in an export pipeline to the East African coast. Read More

  • Image: Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish

    Refinery site residents remain in limbo, and some go hungry

    Geoffrey Kiwedde, LC II for Kabaale Parish (Photo: F. Womakuyu)

    KABAALE PARISH, HOIMA DISTRICT: Kyapaloni village is deserted. The crowds in the once bustling marketplace are no more. Some homes are shut up, bushes have besieged others, and the gardens are empty of the crops they once boasted.

    “The government has told us to begin packing our property and not to grow crops that take more than three months to mature. They said we shall be re-located from this place anytime soon to pave way for the refinery,” says Geoffrey Kiwedde, a Local Councillor II for Kabaale Parish in Buseruka sub-county of Hoima District.

    Kiwedde still doesn’t know when he will have to move or when he will receive compensation for the 18 acres of land that he will give up. Read More

  • ‘First Oil’ in two years, refinery in four, says Commissioner

    Uganda will start producing oil in two years time, while a ‘mini-refinery’ will be operational by 2017 according to the Commissioner of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD), Ernest Rubondo.

    “We shall start at low levels of production—three to five thousand barrels of oil per day which will be used for thermal generation. In four years time, we shall have a small refinery of 20,000 barrels per day [bpd], which will be upgraded to 60,000 bpd in five years time, and expanded to 120,000 bpd in eight years time.”

    Mr. Rubondo was responding to a passionate plea from the President of Tullow Oil in Uganda, Elly Karuhanga, who said that the oil companies and their partners were increasingly frustrated by the delay in commencement of production.  He claimed that some of the service providers who invested heavily, in anticipation of early production, are now nearing bankruptcy.  Read More

  • Uganda needs a refinery, despite our problems, say Ghanaians

    Visiting Ghana, a historic seed-bed of pan-Africanism, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, found strong support for President Yoweri Museveni’s determination to establish a Ugandan oil refinery, in an effort to break the raw material export mould that has characterised—many would say, trapped—African economies since independence.

    Ghana’s Tema Oil Refinery: expensive and inefficient, critics say, but the Government of Ghana appears committed to keeping it going.

    Some key figures in Ghana are urging Uganda to set up its own oil refinery, so as to reap maximum benefits from the country’s oil resources—even though Ghana’s own refinery experience has proved costly and contentious.

    Hon. Kwabena Appiah-Pinkrah, the Member of Parliament from Akrofuomi in the gold-rich Ashanti Region, points out that for the entire Ugandan population to benefit, there must be value-addition to the crude oil from within Uganda. Read More

  • Image: Ghana's FPSO

    Ghana: coping with gas

    In the third of a series of reports from Ghana, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, explains how the gas that accompanies oil discoveries can be a nuisance, and how Ghana finally overcame the problem.

    “The bad news is that they didn’t find oil, but the good news is that they didn’t find gas either!”

    This ironic witticism is recounted by John Peter Amewu at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in Accra, where he is teaching a summer school course in oil and gas for 46 participants from various African countries. He explains that, although countries like Mozambique and Tanzania have found sufficiently huge gas fields to make commercial extraction highly lucrative, energy explorers generally hate to encounter more gas than oil, especially in Africa, where the gas distribution system is not developed. Read More

  • Refinery resettlement study on track, says contractor

    A firm contracted by the government to design a resettlement and compensation package for people displaced by the Hoima oil refinery project expects to conclude its initial study this week, according to the contractor, Strategic Friends International (SFI).

    “We are finishing a field study of the area this week. We shall then embark on writing up the findings and hand over the final resettlement study to the government in September,” Koseya Wambaka, SFI’s head of operations, told Oil in Uganda. Read More

  • No development plan for the oil region, officials admit

    As midwestern Uganda gears up for oil production that will entail billions of dollars in investments, a range of central government officials interviewed by Oil in Uganda admit that there is no overall development plan for the region, and no mechanism for coordinating the efforts of different departments. Read More

  • Image: Eoin Mekie

    Tullow: National Oil Company may share in production, but government must make up its mind over basin development

    Eoin Mekie, General Manager of Tullow Oil’s Uganda operations, maps out the company’s prospects in the Albertine Rift (Picture: NY)

    Uganda’s proposed National Oil Company will have the right to acquire a 15 percent stake in the oil fields that Tullow Oil, TOTAL and CNOOC are developing, according to Eoin Mekie, Tullow’s General Manager in Uganda, speaking exclusively to Oil in Uganda.

    The arrangement was included in the agreements signed between Tullow and the government in early February, in defiance of a parliamentary moratorium on further oil contracts.

    Mr. Mekie welcomes the creation of a National Oil Company, saying that “It will certainly cement our relationship with the government once we actually start working alongside them.”  He adds that Tullow, CNOOC and TOTAL are ready to build the capacity of a National Oil Company that may also want to take up exploration options in other blocks when new licensing rounds begin.

    However, Mr. Mekie also reveals that the government has “not yet shared its refinery plans” with the international oil companies, and that the companies and government need to reach “a concensus on what a basin-wide development will look like over the next five to ten years.” Read More

  • Image: proposed refinery site

    Kabaale: the human prequel to a refinery complex

    Proposed site for Uganda’s oil refinery: sparsely inhabited, yet full of human complexity (Picture: T. White)

    Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development sources confirm that they have commissioned a private company to design a compensation and resettlement package for residents of Kabaale parish, in Hoima District’s Buseruka sub-county, who will be displaced by the 29 square kilometre refinery complex to be built there.

    It’s not going to be an easy job for the consultants.

    Since the discovery of oil, the trickle of informal settlers has been swollen by a veritable tide of hopefuls.  Many of them have taken up fishing on Lake Albert.

    Now, as news of the refinery spreads, longer term residents tell Oil in Uganda that more people are arriving every day, hoping to catch some crumbs from the compensation cake.

    Land tenure in the area is largely informal, relying on deals with local leaders and between private individuals, so it will be no simple matter to work out who ‘owns’  what.

    The five pen-portraits that follow illustrate the human complexity of an area that will soon be covered in concrete. Read More