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Uganda Government Releases Environmental guidelines for oil and gas mining

Government has released an environment monitoring plan and guidelines that will be followed during the extraction of oil and gas in the Albertine Grabben.

The Albertine Grabben is a sensitive ecosystem that includes a network of national game parks, wildlife reserves, fresh water lakes, rivers and swamps.

Dr Tom Okurut, the National Environment Management Authority executive director, said the documents will help in tracking changes that would be caused by oil and gas extraction.

“Definitely, there will be some environmental changes when oil drilling starts. The challenge has been on how we will manage them to ensure sustainability of the ecosystem,” Dr Okurut said.

“With this document, we will be able to monitor the region and track the changes because it gives a number of selected parameters and indicators that should be used in monitoring the activities,” he added.

Mr Okurut was speaking at a joint press conference organised by Nema, Uganda Wildlife Authority, and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department at Nema offices in Kampala yesterday.

Over the years, environmentalists have expressed fears that oil drilling will damage the environment since large volumes of solid and liquid waste will be released into the atmosphere during production.

There is also a concern that oil production will cause a negative impact on the wildlife and tourism, which ranks among the top 10 contributors of foreign exchange. Extraction is anticipated to start in 2015, with heavy oil and gas, followed by paraffin, diesel, petrol and aviation fuel.

According to UWA executive director, Dr Andrew Seguya, the guidelines give ways on how waste should be treated and also carries penalties once a company fails to comply.

By Joseph Miti
The Monitor Newspaper

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