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Interviews

  • Image: Professor Jenik Radon

    “You have to go slow in order to go fast”

    Professor Jenik Radon

    Uganda should move carefully and without haste to develop its oil industry and wider economy.  Well crafted laws, with institutional checks and balances, are essential to govern the commercial aspects.  Revenues should be deposited overseas in hard currency accounts, with a portion saved for the future—because development cannot take place overnight, it needs to phased. Increased government spending should be tied to a comprehensive development plan.   Environmental, health and safety issues should be governed by regional laws that bind international oil companies to the same standards they would have to apply in their countries of incorporation—because otherwise they ‘won’t take it seriously.’

    So says Columbia University professor, scholar-activist and renowned extractives industries expert, Jenik Radon, who has been delivering a series of lectures at Makerere University.  Oil in Uganda caught up with him as he packed his bags to return to storm-buffeted New York City. Read More

  • Image: Dr. Ezra Suruma

    “Oil revenues should be used to make a more humane society”

    Ezra Suruma, a former Minister of Finance, appeals for universal medical insurance and retirement pensions

    Uganda should deploy oil revenues to create universal old age pensions and universal health insurance to make a more humane society. This would be a real investment in the future of the nation.  So says Dr. Ezra Suruma, Uganda’s former Minister of Finance, in this exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda.  He accepts that it will be prudent to place some of the revenues in an Investment Fund—because too much money flowing too fast into the general budget would be difficult to absorb. But, he argues, all Ugandan citizens should become individual shareholders in the Investment Fund, in order to ensure that each and every citizen benefits directly through annual dividends—and also to create citizen-shareholder pressure for transparent and corruption-free management of the funds.  Read More

  • 1955 Bunyoro Agreement signing

    Colonial agreement on resources still stands, says Bunyoro king

    September, 1955: Omukama Sir Tito Gafabusa Winyi IV and Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of the Uganda Protectorate, sign a ‘Bunyoro Agreement’ that, the kingdom claims, remains valid today. (Picture: www.san-luigi.org)

    In an exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda, the Omukama (King) of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, and his principal private secretary, Yoram Nsamba, continue to press the kingdom’s claims for a much larger share in oil revenues than the central government appears ready to grant.

    They argue that a 1955 agreement between the then colonial Governor of Uganda and the then Omukama  guarantees the kingdom a substantial share in revenues from mineral resource extraction and continues to have legal validity.

    They add that international oil companies have promised much by way of support for the Bunyoro region, but that this has translated into “negligible” action. They further complain that outsiders are “distorting our culture.”

    Key excerpts appear below, followed by a historical note putting the 1955 agreement in context. 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

  • Small scale oil production may start in “one or two years”

    The government is considering adapting power stations that now run on imported fuel so that they can burn Uganda’s crude oil instead, leading to small-scale oil production “within one or two years,” Petroleum Exploration and Production Department chief, Ernest Rubondo, tells Oil in Uganda in this exclusive interview.

    Land is meanwhile being acquired for the oil refinery project, says Mr. Rubondo.  The country, he adds, “will take a decision on the extent to which they want to participate [through the proposed National Oil Company] in the risk aspects of the business.”

    The full text of the interview follows. Read More