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
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 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
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
Farmers in oil-rich Hoima District were keen to sell produce to the camps accommodating oil workers in the district, but didn’t know how—and for several years the camps sourced their food from Kampala or even overseas. Now, with the camps set to expand as Uganda moves towards oil production, the door has been prised open by Traidlinks, a non-profit organisation backed by some of Ireland’s leading businesses, including Tullow Oil. Chantal Sirisena reports.
HOIMA DISTRICT: “Accessing the new market was difficult,” says Paul Kasaija, a farmer in Hoima. “We were asking ourselves – why can’t we supply [the oil camps]? Why does produce have to come from South Africa and elsewhere?”
WANSEKO VILLAGE, BULIISA DISTRICT: Surrounded by a dozen women and men seated on the bare ground, Mary Nabanja goes through the financial records of her group in a large book, counting each penny of their group savings.
Nabanja is the chairwoman of the Buliisa Women’s Environmental Protection and Savings Group, based in Wanseko village, some 450 kilometres from Kampala.
Those who had not yet paid up bring their balances forward, and the meeting turns to the day’s main agenda—environmental protection.
Richard Kajura, who facilitates the meeting, begins by going through the fauna and flora that their region is proud of—including parks, lakes and rivers and the climate itself. Read More
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
Uganda’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ezra Suruma, has expressed doubt that the government will have the capacity to appropriately utilise expected oil revenues, given problems of corruption, weak budgertary control and lack of ability to absorb an injection of cash.
“I must say that oil frightens me as a possible source of instability if it is not carefully managed. We have had severe political instability since independence. Some of us who still carry or bear the scars of that instability are careful when looking at these issues to ensure that this instability does not come back,” he told a conference attended by several hundred people including government ministers, Members of Parliament, diplomats, civil servants, industrialists and civil society representatives at the Serena Hotel last Thursday. Read More
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
If you thought Uganda’s fledgling oil industry was all about Tullow, Total and CNOOC, think again. Those companies own rights to explore for and extract the resources, but their operations depend on an army of contractors. Some specialist contractors—such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger or Saipem—are huge corporations in their own right, with multi-billion dollar annual turnovers. Others are more modest, locally grown enterprises. Contractors do everything from supplying, transporting and operating the drilling rigs, mixing chemical lubricants and sealants to pour down the holes, building pipelines and refineries (if Uganda ever gets round to that), insuring the operations against environmental and/or legal catastrophe . . . right down to laundering the oilmen’s clothes and making their lunches.
Chantal Sirisena and Allan Ssempebwa spent the month of August exploring this wider sector. Recently published, in our OIL PLAYERS|OIL INDUSTRY section, are their results: profiles of 23 oil industry contractors, great and small, headquartered in Milan, London, Houston, Cracow or Kampala, doing business in Uganda. Below, the authors summarise and reflect on their findings.