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
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
A firm contracted by the government to design a resettlement and compensation package for people displaced by the Hoima oil refinery project expects to conclude its initial study this week, according to the contractor, Strategic Friends International (SFI).
“We are finishing a field study of the area this week. We shall then embark on writing up the findings and hand over the final resettlement study to the government in September,” Koseya Wambaka, SFI’s head of operations, told Oil in Uganda. Read More
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
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
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
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
The Minister for Information in the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom has urged government to give special consideration to people in the oil producing areas as compensation for losses they may incur once oil production begins.
“Our people are going to face the effects of environmental degradation, social and political problems. They deserve additional benefits over and above other Ugandans,” said Moses Kirungi. “How can you hunt an animal on my land, slaughter it and take away all the meat without leaving some of the kill for the owner?” Read More
The view held by some Ugandans that oil companies are on a spending spree because they stand to legally recover their expenses when they eventually commence oil production is misled, says Eoin Mekie, the General Manager of Tullow Oil in Uganda.
While speaking to members of civil society at a meeting jointly hosted by Tullow, TOTAL and CNOOC, Mr. Mekie said that whereas the public believes that there is no incentive for the oil companies to be cost effective, it is in fact in the best interests of the oil companies to keep exploration costs low. Read More
A stand-off between central government and a policy advocacy group, the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), has alarmed national level civil society organisations but seems not to have affected work by grassroots organisations in oil exploration areas.
According to a public statement by the ULA, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Hillary Onek, has demanded that the Alliance withdraw a report on ‘land grabbing’ and apologise to the government for bringing Uganda into international disrepute. Onek, the Alliance says, has threatened the group with closure if they fail to meet these conditions. Read More