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  • Image: Eriakimi Kaseegu

    Thugs attack Buliisa villagers who say their land was stolen

    Eriakimi Kaseegu, LC 1 Chair for Kasenyi village, says he was beaten and arrested in May, after contesting the unlawful sale of community land. (Picture: F. Womakuyu)

    KASENYI, BULIISA DISTRICT Months after the central government tried to quell land speculation in oil-rich Bunyoro by suspending the issue of new land titles, Oil in Uganda visited Kasenyi, on the north eastern shores of Lake Albert, and unearthed a tale of double-dealing and thuggery seemingly abetted by district leaders and security officials.

    Eriakimi Kaseegu, the Kasenyi Local Council One Chairman, revealed that community land–including the plot where Tullow Oil’s Kasemene 3 well is located–was fraudulently sold by “outsiders” and that the community’s efforts to investigate the sale were met with violence and arbitrary arrests. Read More

  • 1955 Bunyoro Agreement signing

    Colonial agreement on resources still stands, says Bunyoro king

    September, 1955: Omukama Sir Tito Gafabusa Winyi IV and Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of the Uganda Protectorate, sign a ‘Bunyoro Agreement’ that, the kingdom claims, remains valid today. (Picture: www.san-luigi.org)

    In an exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda, the Omukama (King) of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, and his principal private secretary, Yoram Nsamba, continue to press the kingdom’s claims for a much larger share in oil revenues than the central government appears ready to grant.

    They argue that a 1955 agreement between the then colonial Governor of Uganda and the then Omukama  guarantees the kingdom a substantial share in revenues from mineral resource extraction and continues to have legal validity.

    They add that international oil companies have promised much by way of support for the Bunyoro region, but that this has translated into “negligible” action. They further complain that outsiders are “distorting our culture.”

    Key excerpts appear below, followed by a historical note putting the 1955 agreement in context. Read More

  • ‘Contract monitoring coalition’ kicks off with World Bank support

    After a year-long incubation process supported by the World Bank Institute, 19 Ugandan civil society organisations this week formally established a ‘contract monitoring coalition’ that aims to involve local communities in the oversight of government-funded projects—including those related to oil—awarded to private sector contractors. Read More

  • Educate yourselves, big business tells Ugandan media

    Key figures in Uganda’s business elite have accused the national media of ignorance about the oil industry.

    “We cannot afford to be addressed by ignorant writers. If you do not know anything about the oil sector, forgive Ugandans and just keep quiet,” Richard Kaijuka, Vice President of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, told a corporate gathering in Kampala last week. Read More

  • Image: woman tilling field with hoe

    Oil will not bring jobs bonanza, experts emphasise

    What chance do women like this have of getting a job in the oil industry? None. But they just might be able to sell some of their produce to oil camps. (Picture: Peter Bischoff/ActionAid)

    The oil industry in Uganda will be the most capital intensive that the country has ever seen. Many ordinary people believe that it may also result in mass job creation, alleviating unemployment and under-employment—said by some reports to run as high as 80 per cent among rural youth—that not only blights lives but could also foment social and political unrest.

    But the reality is that the oil industry is notorious for consuming large sums of money in its operations, while employing relatively few people, most of whom have particular expertise.  Worse still, manpower requirements in the industry decline with time, meaning that when facilities have been built and the oil is flowing regularly, semi-skilled jobs will all but disappear. Read More

  • This is as close as one can approach Ondiek well without attracting the attention of security guards.  (NY)

    No reason to delay on transparency, says former UK aid minister

    Uganda should lose no time in signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which requires companies and governments publicly to disclose oil and mining payments and revenues, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, told a group of journalists and civil society organisation leaders in Kampala yesterday.

    “Nothing is stopping Uganda from acting now,” said Ms. Short, who has served as Chair of EITI’s Board of Directors since 2011. “You could start tomorrow.  It’s always good to start before oil starts flowing, because then you’ve got transparency from the start.” Read More

  • Dominion pull-out begs questions about mysterious Ugandan oil company

    The withdrawal of Dominion Uganda Ltd from exploration around Lake Edward—an area which, according to independent petroleum geologists, may hold between 90 million and 1.1 billion barrels of oil—leaves a plethora of unanswered questions swirling around an industry that, in Uganda, remains no more transparent than a dollop of waxy crude.

    Why did Dominion pull out?  What happened to a ‘Letter of Intent’ its parent company, UK-based Ophir Energy, signed in March 2012 with Canadian wildcatter, Octant Energy Corp., giving Octant an 80 percent share in, and operatorship of, Exploration Area 4B?  Did the government of Uganda approve these deals?  And where does this leave the mysterious Alpha Oil—a Ugandan owned company that, in one of the sector’s best kept secrets, for many years held a 5 percent stake in Exploration Area 4B? Read More

  • No development plan for the oil region, officials admit

    As midwestern Uganda gears up for oil production that will entail billions of dollars in investments, a range of central government officials interviewed by Oil in Uganda admit that there is no overall development plan for the region, and no mechanism for coordinating the efforts of different departments. Read More

  • We are wasting time, says Tullow chief

    The Chairman of Tullow Oil’s Ugandan subsidiary has expressed disappointment at the slow progress towards oil production since the 2006 discoveries in the Albertine Graben.

    “In Ghana, it took them two years to commence production of their oil after it had been discovered. Kenya, after discovering oil this year, has asked Tullow [Kenya] to deliver the oil as fast as it was done in Ghana.  But in Uganda, we are still negotiating confidentiality issues, stabilisation clauses, etc,” said Elly Karuhanga. Read More

  • Lake Albert bloodshed stains the “new oil frontier”

    by Taimour Lay

    When you stand on the island of Rukwanzi at the heart of Lake Albert, your first thought, echoing perhaps the casual rhetoric of the region’s oil men, is that you are at the edge of a new frontier.

    But for its communities the lake is a centre, a point of connection and integration, the great body of water into which the White Nile flows, part of the vast rift valley that draws Africa’s citizens into mutual dependency. What happens here matters to half a dozen neighbouring countries. But the lines being drawn now, as neat and straight as the borders on colonial maps, mark not sovereign territory, but exploration blocks for oil and gas companies. Read More