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So you think you know about oil? And want to be a millionaire?

Image: Christmas turkey

For this young man, a bird on the shoulder is worth more than a barrel of oil in the bush (Photo: NY)

The Oil in Uganda team extends warm, seasonal greetings to all our readers.  Also, to entertain you in between bouts of feasting, we have prepared a little quiz to test your general knowledge of oil  in Uganda and beyond.  Doing the quiz won’t, alas, make you a millionaire, but you may glean some interesting–and some shocking–facts. The answers to the following twenty questions appear at the end of the text—together with a ‘performance assessment’ depending on how many questions you answered correctly.





1)   What percentage of Uganda’s Albertine Graben has been explored so far?

a)      10 percent

b)      40 percent

c)      60 percent

d)     100 percent


2)   ‘Dutch disease’ is:

a)   A softening of brain tissue caused by smoking cannabis

b)   Prolonged failure to win a major football championship

c)   A surplus of unemployed graduates

d)   Negative impacts on the broader economy caused by a sudden influx of revenues from natural resources.


3)  According to the Government of Uganda, the country’s discovered oil deposits currently stand at:

a)      1.5 billion barrels

b)      2.5 billion barrels

c)      3.5 billion barrels

d)     5.5 billion barrels


4)  According to oil industry experts, Somalia probably has oil deposits of:

a)   1 billion barrels

b)   10 billion barrels

c)   20 billion barrels

d)   100 billion barrels


5)   The first company to be awarded rights over an oil field in Uganda was:

a)      Heritage Oil

b)      Dominion Petroleum

c)      Imperial British East African Company

d)     Tullow Oil


6)   Apart from fuels (petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel), roughly how many household and industrial products are derived in part from oil?

a)   Around 50

b)   Around 500

c)   Around 5,000

d)   Around 50,000


7)   The world’s first commercial oil well was drilled:

a)      In 1859, in Pennsylvania, USA

b)      In 1820, in Sverdlovsk, Russia

c)      In 1425, in Ming dynasty China

d)     In BC 307, in Rome


8)   In 1971, while drilling for natural gas in Turkmenistan, prospectors from the Soviet Union decided to burn off gas from a field where a drilling rig had collapsed.  The resulting fire, covering an area 70 metres in diameter and known locally as ‘the gate of hell’:

a)      Lasted for six months

b)      Lasted for two years

c)      Lasted for six years

d)     Is still burning today, 42 years later


9)  In 1995 the Nigerian government executed the environmental campaigner, Ken Saro-Wiwa.  The ruler of Nigeria at the time was:

a)      Sani Abacha

b)      Goodluck Jonathan

c)      Ibrahim Babangida

d)     Gerry Rawlings


10)   Which of the following oil companies in Uganda is headed by a Ugandan?

a)      Total E & P

b)      Tullow Oil

c)      CNOOC

d)     Heritage Oil


11)    Uganda’s oil can be described as:

a)      Sweet and waxy

b)      Sour and light

c)      Sour and waxy

d)     Sweet and sour


12)   How does South Sudan export its oil?

a)  By lorry

b)  By camel

c)  By bus

d)  By transnational pipeline


13)    In which of Uganda’s National Parks has oil been discovered:

a)      Kidepo

b)      Queen Elizabeth

c)      Murchison Falls

d)     Lake Mburo


14)   A Christmas tree in an oil field refers to:

a)      A decorated tree to celebrate Christmas

b)      A tree planted on Christmas day

c)      A pulley system to facilitate lowering and lifting of equipment into an oil well

d)     An assembly of pipes, valves and gauges to control the flow of oil or gas out of a well


15)    ‘Stabilisation clauses’ in oil contracts are designed to:

a)      Ensure that environmental stability is maintained

b)      Ensure that horses working in the oil field are properly stabled

c)      Protect oil companies from changes in the tax and legal regime

d)     Protect the property rights of local communities


16)    Chad’s export pipeline to the coast runs through which country:

a)      Nigeria

b)      Cameroon

c)      Benin

d)     Denmark


17)    Which of  following obliges US-listed companies to disclose all payments they make to foreign governments:

a)      The Kyoto Protocol

b)      The Dodd-Frank Act

c)      The Montreal Protocol

d)     Access to Information Act


18)   How much crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig:

a)      55,000 barrels

b)      1.2 million barrels

c)      4.9 million barrels

d)     12.7 million barrels


19)   According to the government’s current proposals,‘cultural institutions’ in Uganda will receive how much of the country’s oil revenues:

a)      7 percent

b)      1 percent

c)      7 percent of royalties

d)     None—unless local governments decide to give them part of the local government share.


20)  The most comprehensive and objective source of information on oil in Uganda is:

a)      Oil in Uganda

b)      The New Vision

c)      The Petroleum Exploration and Production Department

d)     State House



1: b 40% of the Albertine Graben has so far been explored, according to the government.

2: d ‘Dutch disease’ refers to the negative impact on the economy of an influx of natural resource revenues.

3: c  The government currently estimates that Uganda has 3.5 billion barrels of oil.

4: Oil industry experts predict that Somalia will prove to have 100-110 billion barrels of oil, ‘as much as Kuwait.’

5: c The colonial government gave the Imperial British East African Company oil exploration rights in 1900. (This was long before the E. J. Wayland surveys in the 1920s, which Government of Uganda publications routinely and mistakenly describe as marking the beginning of oil exploration in the country). 

6: c Petroleum contributes to around 6,000 products, according to this source.

7: a The first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania (read all about it here), although petroleum had been harvested from surface seeps in many parts of the world much earlier than 1859.  2,500 years ago, according to this source, people in China used bamboo poles to pipe natural gas from surface seeps.

8: d The fire is still burning. Read more about it here.

9: a  The writer and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was tried by a special court for ‘inciting murder’ and sentenced to death by hanging during the regime of  Sani Abacha

10: b Tullow Oil’s Ugandan subsidiary is headed by Jimmy Mugerwa (General Manager), and its board president is Elly Karuhanga.  Both are Ugandan nationals.

11: a Uganda’s oil is ‘sweet and waxy’

12: d  South Sudan exports its oil by pipeline to Sudan.

13: c  Commercially exploitable quantities of oil have been found within Murchison Falls National Park, but it is likely that future exploration will take place in Queen Elizabeth (and, possibly, Kidepo).

14: d An oil field ‘christmas tree’ is the assembly of instruments to measure and control production flow.  

15: c  Stabilisation clauses are designed to create a stable environment for long term investors, by making sure that they will not be affected by changes in laws and regulations after a contract is signed.  Read more about it here.

16: b Chad exports its oil along a 1070 kilometre pipeline through Cameroon to the coast.

17: b The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act includes provisions requiring all companies listed on US stock exchanges to report all payments made to foreign governments.

18: c The 4.9 million barrel spill was the largest marine environmental disaster in oil production history.

19: d The Public Finance Management Bill tabled in Uganda’s parliament in 2012 proposes to give 7 percent of royalties (not 7 percent of total revenues) to local governments in oil-producing areas.  The local governments may then, if they choose, pass some of the money to ‘cultural institutions’.

20: a Of course.



16-20 correct:  Wow!  With a Petroleum Authority and National Oil Company now being set up, reports of a Petroleum Directorate being created within the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department continuing to operate under the aegis of that ministry, you should be in line for a 7 million+ per month job in Uganda’s fast-growing oil bureaucracy.  Apply to State House right away.

10-15 correct:  Not bad.  You need to brush up on some of the details by visiting this site regularly.

Less than 10 correct:  Hmm. You really need to be paying more attention.


Quizmeisters:  CM, NY, ETWY