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  • 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

  • Land, oil and dispossession

    This overview of the connections between oil and land in Uganda was written for the second issue of our quarterly newsletter, now in print.

    By an unfortunate twist of fate, Uganda’s oil and many other mineral resources lie beneath some of the poorest and most marginalised areas of the country.  According to the 1995 Constitution, the state holds these resources in trust for the people; but the great risk is that they will be captured by predatory elites, rather than used for the benefit of the people as a whole. Read More

  • Cultural leaders’ demands could cause conflict, analysts say

    Growing demands from cultural leaders for a share of oil revenues could spark ethnic conflicts among marginalized communities in mineral rich areas of Uganda, analysts say.

    “If communities begin demanding higher percentages, it will set precedents. Mineral sites may bring conflicts as they start fighting for their shares of royalties. Far from bringing wealth and health, we may not get political hygiene but ethnic politics,” according to Makerere University History and Development Studies don, Ndebesa Mwebestya. 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

  • Image: Alpha Oil company application

    Alpha Oil was never “lucky,” says director; but mysteries remain

    The co-owners’ application to form Alpha Oil was submitted in November 2005 and approved one month later

    “How could you say we were ‘lucky?,’” complains Richard Kaijuka, referring to Oil in Uganda’s June 5 article, Dominion pull-out begs questions about mysterious Ugandan oil company.  “I can tell you that Alpha Oil [the mysterious company in question] did not make even one dollar out of this.”

    Mr. Kaijuka does not contest any of the facts in the published story—which revealed that Alpha stood to take five percent of any profits from petroleum discovered in a Lake Edward Exploration Area—but, in an interview last week, he explained some of the background to the company. Read More

  • Activists dispute improved transparency claim

    Civil society groups have challenged a recent news report on increased transparency in Uganda’s oil sector and repeated their call for the government to publish all oil deals. 

    An article that appeared in The New Vision on June 30 noted in its headline that “Government discloses oil deals.” However, campaigners argue, only limited information—on petroleum royalty rates—has been released to MPs. Read More