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  • Image: dead whale washed ashore in Ghana's Western Region

    Is oil killing the whales in Ghana?

    According to Civil Society Organisations in Ghana, twenty dead whales have been washed ashore in the coastal Western Region since oil production started three years ago. (Photo provided by Friends of the Nation)

    The Ghana government and environmentalists are trading accusations after more decomposing carcasses of whales were washed ashore last month, reigniting debate on the government’s capacity to balance oil production and environment conservation.   Read More

  • Large water aquifers discovered in oil-rich Turkana region

    Water gushing out of a borehole at Napuu area during the flushing process (Photo: UNESCO)

    The Kenya government announced last week that huge underground water sources had been discovered in the arid Turkana region north of Kenya, big enough to meet the country’s fresh water needs for at least 70 years. Read More

  • Flaring: New technology escalates environmental nuisance

    Although everyone now recognises the harm that flaring causes, it appears to be increasing in the USA, where the oil and gas industry has been energised by new “fracking” technologies which have opened up “unconventional” oil and gas fields. This satellite picture shows North Dakota at night, illuminated by gas flares.

    Gas “flaring” has for decades been recognised as both wasteful and environmentally hazardous, but it continues on a significant scale around the world today despite various initiatives, codes of conduct, laws and agreements to halt it. Read More

  • OPEC starts to feel impact of shale

    Despite increasing domestic shale oil and gas production , fracking is hugely unpopular amongst environmentalists and the practice has sparked off large protests in the US and Europe.

    The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) dominance of the global oil market is shrinking due to rising supply of shale oil mainly from the United States, according to the cartel’s monthly report for August, 2013. Read More

  • Waste dumping incident exposes ugly side of local content

    Area Chairman Eriakimi Kasegu

    A bizarre incident in which a local contractor dumped two truckloads of human waste in a village in Buliisa District has exposed the vulnerability of communities in oil-producing areas, but also demonstrated the potential downside of employing local companies in Uganda’s nascent oil and gas industry.   Read More

  • Gas: not the main meal but a useful side dish

    A gas flare. Government policy can decide whether natural gas will be a nuisance and health hazard, or a useful resource .

    Close to 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas is thought to lie trapped in a reservoir under Uganda’s Albertine Graben in addition to the 3.5 billion barrels of oil that have so far been discovered.

    This sounds like a lot but it is chicken feed compared to the huge gas fields that have been discovered off the coast of South East Africa.  Tanzania has found 40 trillion cubic feet.  Mozambique has 100 trillion—1,000 times as much as Uganda. Read More

  • Total pioneers ‘cable-less 3D seismic’ surveys in Uganda

    By Jean-Michel Enjolras

    What is a ‘seismic survey?’ Total E & P Uganda’s Director of Geosciences explains all—and says his company is doing all it can to minimise the environmental impacts. Read More

  • Oil waste: to bury or not to bury?

    Ngara Waste Storage Site in Buliisa District operated by Tullow Oil Uganda.

    Could drilling waste produced by Uganda’s oil wells be put to use in construction and agriculture rather than just being buried? 

    In theory, yes, writes Beatrice Ongode, citing examples from other countries; but in practice it will depend on whether it is economically viable to first treat and process the waste. Read More

  • Insufficient funding limiting environmental monitoring


    Dr. Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha

    Dr. Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha is the former Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), an institution he served for nearly 15 years until June 2011.

    He was at the helm of NEMA in 2006 when commercially viable quantities of oil were confirmed in Uganda, and spearheaded initial efforts to put measures in place to safeguard the environment amidst oil exploration and subsequent production.

    Speaking exclusively to Oil in Uganda’s Beatrice Ongode, Dr. Aryamanya advised government to protect the ecologically-sensitive oil-rich Albertine Region, or “be prepared to handle what is coming its way.”

    He disputes NEMA’s persistent claims that oil drilling waste in Uganda has been tested and confirmed non-hazardous, but sympathises with NEMA’s inability to fully exert its presence due to insufficient funding. Read More

  • Fisherman guts his catch on Lake Albert

    Is Uganda ready to handle oil waste?

    A Lake Albert fisherman guts his catch. The fishing sector  will be  one of the   casualities of poor oil waste management in the Albertine. (Photo: Thomas White)

    With the government estimating that Uganda’s Albertine Graben holds at least 3.5 billion barrels of oil, expectations of many Ugandans are high—but so too are fears of environmental damage.

    Other natural resources already generate revenue in the oil-rich region.  It is home to premier tourist destinations, including the Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Semiliki national parks. And, experts agree, it is also an ecologically ‘sensitive’ area.

    A major oil spill or a fire at an oil well could result in environmental catastrophe.  But, as well as fearing such a nightmare scenario, Ugandan environmentalists also worry about how the country will manage a predictable and certain result of oil production—the generation of large amounts of oil waste. Read More