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  • Image: Angelo Izama

    Battle over national oil company reveals strains of the sector

    By Angelo Izama

    Angelo Izama

    During the oil debate in November 2011, parliament was piqued by an incident in which a letter written to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in defense of Tullow Oil was presented on the floor by the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi before Kadaga could open hers. The sense that government and the oil companies are locked in a tight embrace, working hand in glove, explains the attitude of mistrust that ordinary MPs now feel.

    In the last seven days, battle lines have been drawn. In a rather bizarre commentary made on the distance ordinary Ugandans feel from the process, an NGO alliance led by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment invited all of Uganda’s 370 MPs  to the lakeside resort of Munyonyo to debate amendments to the country’s proposed oil bills. 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

  • Image: Buffalo in Murchison mud

    Wildlife–Uganda’s big tourist draw–begins to feel the strain of oil

    A buffalo cools off in the Murchison mud. Let’s hope that’s not drilling waste he’s wallowing in. (Photo: CM)

    More than a million tourists visited Uganda in 2011, bringing US$ 805 million in foreign exchange—the country’s biggest forex earner by a large margin. The Lonely Planet travel guide company has since named Uganda “top tourist destination for 2012.” But what has been the impact of the 16 oil exploration wells drilled inside Murchison Falls National Park, one of the main tourist attractions?  What is happening to the animals that the tourists flock to see?  Oil in Uganda visited Murchison to ask park staff and neighbouring communities, and also contacted tour operators who expressed concern for the future of their trade as the oil industry ramps up for production. Read More

  • Report identifies gaping holes in environmental capacity

    “Although the government of Uganda has made significant efforts to put in place fairly elaborate policy, legal and institutional mechanisms to address the environment[al] challenges of the gas and oil sector, the lack of capacity to implement these policies and enforce the corresponding laws has grossly undermined their effectiveness,” according to a recent Capacity Needs Assessment for the Environmental Pillar Institutions in Uganda conducted on behalf of the National Environment Management Authority by an independent consulting company with funding from the Norwegian goverment through their Oil for Development programme. Read More

  • U.S.A. to fund oil management training in Uganda

    The United States government through its donor agency U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to finance the creation of energy-management Doctorate and Master’s degree programs at Makerere University to help “current and future Ugandan professionals” and others to develop expertise “in sound environmental management and biodiversity conservation in relation to oil and gas development.” 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

  • Ghana set to join the league of big African oil producers

    Oil and gas are likely to play an ever more prominent role in Ghana’s fast-growing economy following new discoveries both in the Jubilee field and the Tano Basin.

    Italian giant Eni, made a major discovery last month in the offshore Cape Three Points block, some 50 kilometres from the coast. Eni is continuing to drill other wells to confirm the feasibility of commercial development, but the production test revealed that this new well is capable of producing about 5,000 high quality barrels of oil per day (bpd). Read More

  • 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

  • Image: Lake Malawi border map

    Oil fuels border disputes over Lake Malaŵi and Ilemi Triangle

    Source: www.tzaffairs.org

    Oil and gas discovers in East Africa have re-ignited long-standing territorial disputes in areas believed to possess significant petroleum deposits.

    This week, Malaŵi announced it would take Tanzania to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, over the disputed ownership of Lake Malaŵi, known in Tanzania as Lake Nyasa.

    Tanzania claims that colonial era treaties between Great Britain and Germany demarcated the border down the middle of the lake but since independence Malaŵi has claimed sovereignty over the whole of its northern reaches. Read More