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700 million Barrels of Oil Discovered in Uganda

Monday, 20th July, 2009

The 700 million barrels of discovered oil are enough for Uganda, Tim O’Hanlon, the Tullow Oil Group vice-president, has disclosed.

Uganda consumes about 11,000 barrels of oil per day and depends on Kenya for supplies since it is a landlocked country.

Disruption of supplies in Kenya has always affected the supply and price in Uganda. He said plans to provide fuel for power generation were being considered, adding that the company was also looking at establishing a refinery so that Uganda can address not only its own market needs but also those of the Great Lakes region.

“We are looking at development of commercialisation options,” O’Hanlon stated.

“Apart from the significant resources, we expected to change the lives of the people around Lake Albert, in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” he said at the company’s mid-year celebrations over the weekend at Emin Pasha Hotel in Kampala.

“But the 700 million barrels of oil of which we (Tullow) and our partner Heritage Oil have found may be a tip of the iceberg,” O’Hanlon said.

“There could be lots more oil under Lake Albert between Uganda and DR Congo. That could be supplemented by oil exports to international markets.”

His remarks come at a time when exploration activities have been suspended to focus on development planning and commercialisation of the discovered hydrocarbons.

Detailed evaluation of short-term fuel supply for local power and options for full-scale refining and export has commenced.

Elly Karuhanga, the Tullow operations president, said the company was planning to employ about 10,000 qualified Ugandans.

He said the Ugandan oil operations had managed well the loss time incidents since no one was injured during the drilling operations.

The oil industry measures loss time incidents to ensure every worker works without being stopped by injuries due to accidents.

“Tullow’s Uganda operations were judged the best out of 180 oil companies for caring about the environment, health and safety,” Karuhanga disclosed.

Hilary Onek, the energy and mineral development minister, advised Tullow to remain doing the oil business in Uganda.

“Tullow is here to stay for sometime with us even for 50 years if we are still there. We will continue with Tullow as long as Tullow does not sell itself to Shell or other companies because with stock markets, they could sell themselves,” Onek said.

“But my permanent secretary assured me there is a provision in our agreements that they have to consult us before they sell the company.”

He said oil and other minerals are not the end.

By Ibrahim Kasita - The New Vision

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