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  • 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

  • Pie chart: Ghana mining revenues (2009)

    Ghana: taking revenue transparency seriously

    Source: Ghana EITI aggregated report, 2009. EITI yearly reports give detailed information on revenue flows to government, broken down by company, sector, type and destination of receipts.

    In a fifth report from Ghana, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, describes the country’s efforts to institutionalise transparency in the handling of revenues from oil and mining industries.

    Mismanagement of revenues from the extraction of natural resources is widely cited as a major factor leading to the much-feared “resource curse”—the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have slower economic growth and, in many cases, more instability, than their less endowed counterparts.

    To avoid this, Ghana joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2003, as a way of tracking revenues from its minerals trade, eventually extending the practice to the oil and gas industry in 2010. Read More

  • Image: Ghana's FPSO

    Ghana: the environmental costs of oil

    The Kwame Nkrumah Floating Production, Storage and Offloading facility in Ghana’s offshore Jubilee Field, operated by Tullow and partners. The powerful lights attract fish into a ‘safety zone’ that local fishermen cannot enter, and some fishermen complain of health problems associated with excessive gas flaring. (Photo: Tom Fowler)

    Oil production worldwide has been synonymous with environmental damage, and Ghana is proving to be no exception. Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, reports from Takoradi, Ghana’s coastal ‘oil city,’ two hundred kilometres south west of Accra.

    Oil production 60 kilometres offshore has created problems for the environment and the locals, according to Solomon Kusi Ampofo, the Program Officer in charge of the Extractives Industry at Friends of the Nation (FON), an environmental NGO based in Takoradi.

    “Since the exploration and subsequent production of oil, nine whales have been washed ashore the coast in Jomoro and Ellembelle Districts,” he says.  Read More

  • Puppets spread information and, hopefully, peace in Ruwenzori

    FORT PORTAL: Inside a colonial style bungalow, partitioned into several rooms, the largest space is devoted to rows of shelves containing books, magazines and leaflets on petroleum. The library, its staff say, receives about 20 visits a day from people seeking information on Uganda’s newly discovered oil to know what is happening in the oil sector and how to benefit.

    This is the initiative of the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRRC), based in Fort Portal, which has set out to sensitize the people in the Ruwenzori sub-region about Uganda’s newly discovered oil, so they will know how to benefit from the petro dollars while also holding their leaders accountable in use of public resources.

    The centre serves the six districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge and Kyegegwa, which have a joint population of around 2.5 million people. Read More

  • Oil boom will be “modest,” economists say

    Uganda’s oil revenues will take “at least a decade” to arrive and will not by themselves transform the country, probably growing to no more than five percent of gross domestic product for a thirty year period, according to a recent study published the Oxford Centre for the Analysis’ of Resource Rich Economies, attached to Oxford University.

    “Oil revenues are best seen as a transitory form of public income that will allow Uganda to put in place the institutional reforms, policy actions and public investments to underpin the changes in economic structure needed to sustain growth once the resource is depleted,” according to Managing a Modest Boom: Oil Revenues in 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

  • Image: Buliisa lakeshore

    NGOs encourage Albertine communities to monitor environment

    Buliisa District: Local people in the oil producing areas should be front line monitors of environmental change, say green NGOs (Photo: Stephen Wandera)

    As Uganda moves closer to oil production, a number of civil society organizations are working with communities in the oil-rich areas to help them monitor and mitigate adverse impacts on their environment.

    One such group is the National Association for Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), whose Executive Director, Frank Muramazi, says that as early as 2008 the NGO carried out research in Buliisa, Hoima, Mubende and Kiryandongo districts and found that local citizens were largely ignorant of potential threats to water bodies and environmentally sensitive areas, including national parks and game reserves.

    “If these resources are not exploited sustainably, the local people will eventually lose out,” says Muramazi. 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

  • Ghana: the mixed blessing of rapid oil production

    Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, visited Ghana in July to discover what Uganda might learn from that country’s experience of oil and gas. In the first of a series of reports, he notes that the government was in a hurry to get oil flowing, yet civil society activists regret the relative haste of the progression from discovery to production.

    In June 2007, Tullow Oil announced that it had found oil at Cape Three Points, off Ghana’s coast. Three months later, the U.S. firm, Kosmos, made a second discovery in the same area. The country had finally struck oil in commercial quantities, burying the disappointments of the 1970s when announcements by earlier regimes turned out to be too optimistic. Read More

  • “We were cheated!” say brothers. “They’re opportunists!” say officials.

    KANARA SUB-COUNTY, NTOROKO DISTRICT:  Two brothers in this recently created district accuse local officials of leasing to international oil companies land that their family had inherited—but the officials deny any wrongdoing, claiming that the brothers are “opportunists” trying to cash in on oil wealth.

    Edward Tibamwenda and Sam Kato, blood brothers who live mainly from fishing on the southern shores of Lake Albert, claim that in 2005 Bundibugyo District officials leased five acres of their family’s land to Heritage Oil and Gas.  The family, the brothers say, was neither consulted nor compensated. Read More