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Image: Air, Water Earth logoAIR WATER EARTH (AWE) Ltd, a Ugandan environmental and civil engineering consulting firm incorporated in 2002, is one of largest environmental service providers in the country.  It has private, corporate and government clients in various sectors, including the oil and gas sector.  The company is based in Kampala but also has offices in Kigali, Rwanda.

AWE’s first client was Coca Cola and the beverage company has retained AWE ever since to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and audits, including emissions and noise measurements.

AWE was the first Ugandan consulting firm to introduce environmental measurements in EIAs and audits. For example, AWE’s emissions analysis provided quantitative magnitude of air pollution as opposed to assessment based on “a visual inspection of stack emissions” as was required by environmental guidelines of the time.

Oil opportunities

AWE’s involvement in the oil sector began in 2008 when the company won its first contract with Heritage Oil and Gas after a competitive bidding process. The assignment involved EIA studies for the first exploration wells in Murchison Falls National Park. A diverse team of ecologists, wildlife experts and engineers produced recommendations that, according to the company, have since served as a benchmark in oil exploration in wildlife conservation areas.

AWE has an annual contract with each of the major oil companies operating in Uganda, and is currently undertaking studies for TOTAL in West Nile (Exploration Area 1).

The company estimates that work in the oil sector accounts for about 30% of its revenues but notes that, in the ongoing shift from oil exploration to production, there has been a slight reduction in demand for environmental services for exploration activities.

However, the company adds that the diversity of its clientele protects it from fluctuation in demand from the oil industry. In recent years, AWE has diversified into civil engineering consulting, opening up new revenue streams.

The environmental industry in Uganda is largely dominated by local players, not only due to ‘local content’ requirements of government but also because of the inherently local nature of socio-environmental studies.

As the oil industry moves into the production phase in 2016-17, AWE envisages growing demand for monitoring activities. Other environmental service requirements in the production phase are beyond the current scope of the company’s activities.

However, AWE aims to build its capacity to handle more specialised, mid-stream studies such as those associated with oil refining and pipelines. As a first step, AWE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Worley Parsons, a large, international provider of professional consulting services to the energy, resource, and complex process industries.

AWE now employs 15 staff, 12 of whom are qualified engineers. The company envisages significant future growth in environmental service needs for infrastructure sectors, especially transport and power.

For more, see the company websiteReport by Chantal Sirisena