– Muloni says they are preparing the Ugandan National Oil Company to start participating in Exploration and other Activities
Uganda, which is developing oil deposits but has yet to begin production, will launch its next bidding round for oil exploration licences in May this year. Energy Minister Irene Muloni, who led a Ugandan delegation to the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town November last year, said that technicians in the ministry were processing data on the oil blocks due for licensing, to be shared with the interested bidding companies. Muloni has said that the second bidding round or oil exploration in the Lake Albert Basin will be conducted in the first half of 2019, citing that data and bid documents are being prepared in readiness for the second bidding round.
‘Uganda is committed to developing its petroleum sector across the entire value chain, and clear strides to move the country’s key assets from the exploration phase into the development phase have been made. Uganda offers opportunities for companies looking to explore, develop and utilise its petroleum assets.’ she said Uganda’s delegation included Ernest Rubondo, the executive director of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, and the chairman of Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Elly Karuhanga who discussed Uganda as a petroleum destination during the country’s Roadshow in Cape Town. Standard Bank Group Global Head of Oil and Gas Mr. Dele Kuti described Uganda’s financial sector as attractive for oil and gas investment. The upstream Tilenga and Kingfisher projects were also highlighted during the AOW with a presentation from Mr. Philips Obita, Head Development and Production at the Uganda National Oil Company – UNOC. Uganda also had a session at the African Local Content Forum. PAU’s Manager National Content Ms. Betty Namubiru, Stanbic Bank – Uganda Mr. James Karama and GIZ Ms. Julia Mager showcased Uganda’s local content initiatives in the regulatory framework, enterprise development and skills development, respectively.
Minister Muloni also addressed a press conference during the week and reiterated Uganda’s preparedness for petroleum production. She appreciated the Joint Venture Partners in the industry, CNOOC Uganda Limited, Tullow Oil plc Uganda Operations and Total E&P Uganda Limited for the investment and support in Uganda’s oil and gas sector, so far.
This exercise will be Uganda’s second competitive bidding round since the new petroleum law introduced transparency in the licensing of new players. In the first competitive round in 2016, the country issued only two licences — to Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum for the Ngassa block and Armour Group from Australia for the Kanywataba area — for four years from 2017.
Oranto is becoming a major player in African oil, with activities in a number of countries including South Sudan, where the company was issued an exploration licence for Block B3 in March last year, and has already completed an aeromagnetic survey. “We are waiting for interpretation of this data to inform where drilling will be done,” says Oranto South Sudan country manager George Olugbenga Adesanya.
Mr Adesanya said the firm will spend $500 million over six years in South Sudan to develop the more than 24,000 square kilometre Block B3. The work plan includes seismic studies, minor and major drilling. Besides Uganda and South Sudan, Oranto also holds exploration licences in Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Zambia and now, according to Mr Adesanya, the company wants to expand its presence in the East African oil and gas exploration sector. Uganda discovered 6.5 billion barrels worth of hydrocarbon deposits 12 years ago in the Albertine rift basin near its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo but production has been repeatedly delayed by disagreements with oil companies over field development strategy and tax disputes.
“We will have a road show first and then we will start the bidding round in May next year,” Rubondo, told reporters on the sidelines of the Africa Oil Week conference. Total and China’s CNOOC are aiming to begin production in Uganda in about two years’ time.