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  • MPs revolt against creation of a ‘Super’ oil minister

    “No vote! Our oil!” chanted a section of the House.

    “Let’s Vote!” chorused another.

    The Speaker’s chair vacant, the Sergeant at Arms and his assistants jealously guarded the Mace, the symbol of parliamentary power, as some members of the opposition appeared to be making a move for it.

    This was the dramatic scene that played out in a fully-packed parliament yesterday as Uganda’s law makers clashed over whether to vote on re-introducing Clause 9 of a draft oil bill, giving sweeping powers to the minister in charge of oil. Read More

  • Image: Citizens try to enter parliament

    Bishop, MPs, prise parliament’s doors open to the public

    Police direct citizens to another entrance to parliament, where they must wait to see if they will be allowed to enter. (Photo: NY)

    As MPs gathered in Uganda’s parliament this afternoon to debate a bill that will structure and regulate the oil sector, police on the gates were busily refusing entry to activists who wanted to the watch the debate from the public gallery—until rescue for the citizens’ rights came from the intervention of a prominent cleric.

    Shortly before 2 pm Oil in Uganda  found a despondent huddle of barred activists at the parliamentary gate.  According to Henry Bazira, chairperson of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas, police had told them the public gallery was “full.” Read More

  • Image: ActionDealyed

    Showdown looms as government moves to reclaim power over oil

    Ugandan NGOs shut down in protest at government corruption on the same day that parliament voted to curtalil ministerial power over oil. But Mr. Museveni has bounced back with deals to keep his parliamentary troops in line. (Photo: NY)

    A controversial clause in Uganda’s Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, which was amended during a parliamentary debate two weeks ago in such a way as to limit ministerial powers, has been re-introduced at the eleventh hour and will again be debated on Tuesday, November 27, after intense efforts by the ruling party to quell potential rebellion in its own ranks.

    A National Resistance Movement caucus meeting held today (November 26) was widely seen as an attempt to railroad Movement MPs into supporting the original version of the bill, while civil society activists held their own press conference and issued statements denouncing the effort to overturn the earlier amendment. Read More

  • 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

  • Last minute scramble to salvage Petroleum Bills

    More than 140 Ugandan members of parliament gathered in the Munyonyo Speke Resort today to ‘harmonise’ their positions ahead of the expected parliamentary debate next week on the two Petroleum Bills that were tabled in February.

    The event was convened by the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) which has criticised the draft laws more strongly than the Natural Resources Committee recommendations published last month.

    PFOG, in common with many civil society groups, is calling for more limits on executive power and for stronger environmental and transparency provisions. Read More

  • Committee report on oil leaves Minister’s powers intact

    International groups and Ugandan civil society activists have expressed disappointment with a long awaited Natural Resources Committee report that was finally tabled in parliament last Thursday.

    For the last seven months the committee has held extensive public and private consultations on two petroleum bills to regulate the development of Uganda’s oil industry.  The draft bills, prepared by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, were strongly criticised by civic groups for giving too much power to the Minister responsible for oil, with relatively little parliamentary oversight.

    The committee’s report, a copy of which Oil in Uganda has seen, does not propose to trim the powers of the Minister, however.  It recommends the introduction of several clauses to ensure the involvement of parliament and cabinet in decision making processes, but the minister still remains supreme. Read More

  • Image: John Ken Lukyamuzi, MP for Lubaga South

    Oil bills: Lukyamuzi to table ‘minority report’ in parliament

    Ken Lukyamuzi, MP, wants constitutional amendments regarding petroleum and the environment (Photo: Nick Young)

    As Uganda’s parliament prepares to debate a long-awaited report on the Petroleum Bills, finally submitted by the Natural Resources Committee, a disgruntled member of that committee has secured permission to present his own, ‘minority report’ to the house.

    Lubaga South MP, John Ken Lukyamuzi (CP), rose on a point of procedure after the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee had introduced the committee’s views on the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill 2012, and requested the Speaker to allow him to table his own report.

    Parliamentary rules provide for a committee member or members who disagree with the rest of the committee to table their own report, referred to as a Minority Report. Read More

  • Uganda prays for victory in “defining battle” with Heritage

    “I sense this is the defining battle.  Let those who are on the Lord’s side stand up and be counted,” wrote Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner, Allen Kagina, in an email to senior colleagues, as behind-closed-doors arbitration proceedings opened in London last week to settle a dispute between the government of Uganda and Heritage Oil. Read More

  • Ghana: a long road to managing petroleum resources

    Uganda plans to create a Petroleum Authority to regulate the oil industry and a National Oil Company to partner with international oil companies in extracting and marketing the resources. In a second report from Ghana, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, describes the role and evolution of similar institutions in that country. Whilst at first sight Ghana appears to have followed a ‘fast track’ from oil discovery to oil production, this report shows that in fact the country has a long history both of oil exploration and of efforts to develop an institutional framework to manage the industry. Read More

  • Disputed land at Kigorobya

    Internal Security Officer named in Hoima land dispute

    A murram road cuts through the disputed 1,205 hectares of Kigorobya range and farmland. (Photo: S. Wandera)

    A senior official in Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO), Major Herbert Asiimwe Muramagi, has been named in a complex land dispute in oil-rich Hoima District where, some locals allege, in April of last year he bought 1,200 hectares of land from an entity that had no right to sell it.

    Members of the community in Kisukuma Parish, Kigorobya sub-county, further allege that when they resisted demands to vacate the land for the new owner they were beaten and arrested by armed police and soldiers.

    When contacted by telephone on July 4, however, Major Muramagi—who is Maritime Director of the ISO, responsible for security on Lake Albert —denied involvement. “It is all lies. I do not own any land in Hoima and I have never owned land in Hoima,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    Read More