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  • Kingfisher Public hearings concluded

    Government concluded two public hearings of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Kingfisher development project. The hearings were conducted at Rwemisanga Primary school in Kikuube district and at Kabaale Primary school in Hoima district. The hearings which were organised by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda brought together project affected persons, diplomats, CNOOC Uganda, the operator for the Kingfisher oil field and other stakeholders who expressed their opinions and suggestions on the project inorder to influence NEMA’s decision making during the review of ESIA report. CNOOC Uganda Ltd intends to establish petroleum production facilities and support infrastructure in Buhuka parish where crude oil from wells drilled under Lake Albert will be processed and transported via a 46-kilometre feeder pipeline to a delivery point in Kabaale parish in Hoima district. While presenting the ESIA report, the CNOOC Uganda Vice President Mr Cu Yujun said the Kingfisher oil project will yield substantial social and economic benefits for Uganda through increased government revenues, employment opportunities, increased household incomes and expenditure. He said the project will increase the demand for goods and services within the project affected areas. He added that the project will cause human capital development through short and medium term employment opportunities for the people and cause a transfer of knowledge and skills from expatriates to Ugandans. The Kingfisher ESIA report indicates that during the construction, operation and decommissioning of the project, air quality, soils, surface and ground water may be affected. The project is expected to attract immigrants, affect the health, social services and livelihoods of affected persons. It is feared that the project could destroy archeological and cultural sites in the area. According to Mr Cu Yujun, all impacts have been identified and measures have been developed to ensure that negative impacts are mitigated and positive impacts enhanced for communities. CNOOC indicated that there are management plans for air quality, noise and vibration, biodiversity, traffic, waste, influx, cultural heritage and community health. Christopher Busobozi, a resident of Kyangwali subcounty asked CNOOC to increase of education and trainings for Ugandans to enable Ugandans attain the necessary skills to work in the oil industry. Omuhereza Tumwesigye from Kabwooya subcounty expressed worry that oil developments may displace some people and affect their livelihoods. He demanded a plan to improve on livelihoods of project affected persons. Simon Kyahurwa, a resident of Buseruka subcounty told a pre-public hearing dialogue that was organized by Action Aid Uganda that some oil producing states like Nigeria have had challenges where oil pipelines are attacked and cut by militants. He asked Government and oil companies for a plan of how oil pipelines will be protected from attacks and spills. Ms Betty Bagadira, a resident of Tonya parish in Buseruka subcounty expressed concerns over women and the elderly being displaced by the project and being marginalized. However, the CNOOC Uganda’s Senior Public relations supervisor Ms Aminah Bukenya said the project will address the concerns which people raised at the public hearings in line with CNOOC’s strategy of win-win for the company and people affected by the oil developments. The Buhaguzi County Member of parliament whose constituency hosts the Kingfisher oil field said locals are worried of increased cases of land grabbing in the area since commercially viable oil deposits were discovered in the constituency. He asked Government to undertake systematic land demarcation and titling to enhance land tenure security of his people. He asked CNOOC to support the planting of indigenous tree species, improve community livelihoods, promote conservation of forests and wetlands and asked Government to take leaders in oil rich areas to oil producing states so that they obtain knowledge and skills about how the petroleum industry operates. The PAU Director of Technical Support Services Ms Peninah Aheebwa who represented the PAU Executive Director said the hearings gave an opportunity to Government and CNOOC to hear public concerns so that negative impacts are mitigated and the benefits of the project are optimized. She said proposals raised by the public will be put into consideration by the relevant Government organs before the project is given a green light to proceed. She said adequate measures will be put in place to address the environmental and social threats of the project. The Public hearings were presided over by Prof Grace Bantebya, a Makerere University lecturer. She said the oil can bring joy and tears to a country. “This gigantic sector can change us either way” she said. She asked stakeholders to lay strategies of making the oil industry a blessing so that the sector helps Uganda in attaining some of the sustainable development goals. Kingfisher is one of the oil projects in Uganda which Government is developing in line with Uganda’s journey to kick start commercial oil production in 2022. Story by Francis Mugerwa Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • Why UNOC CEO Dr Josephine resigned

    Uganda National Oil Company Director General CEO Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo address participants during the 5th East Africa oil and Gas summit and Exhibition held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi Kenya on the 21 June 2018. Politics, intrigue cited in her resignation Nearly three years in her job, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda National Oil Company, Dr Josephine Wapakabulo has resigned.  In her resignation letter dated May 13, 2019, addressed to the Chairperson Board of Directors of the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), Emmanuel Katongole, Wapakabulo cites family and new opportunities as reasons for her resignation. “This is my resignation from the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda National Oil Company with effect from August, 13, 2019,” her resignation letter reads in part. Chairman, it has been an honour and a privilege to work with you, the Board and staff of UNOC as we set-up and established UNOC to handle the State’s commercial interests in the Oil and Gas sector. However, time has come for me to focus on my family and new opportunities,” Wapakabulo’s resignation letter reads in part. However, insiders attribute her resignation to politics and intrigue at work. In a staff email on the contrary, Wapakabulo further hinted on health as a cause of her resignation. She was recruited as the first CEO of the Uganda National Oil Company in August, 2016. In her resignation letter, she described UNOC staff as dedicated to serve the country, hardworking, smart and skilled Ugandans. “I’m confident that under the continued guidance of the Board, UNOC will grow from strength to strength and successfully deliver its mandate to the people of Uganda,” she wrote. Wapakhabulo is a daughter of the Late Speaker of Parliament and seasoned politician, James Wapakhabulo. “I express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his leadership and stewardship of our oil and gas sector. I also thank our Shareholder Ministers, Hon. Eng. Irene Muloni and Hon. Matia Kasaija, you and the Board for all the support and guidance you have given me during my time as CEO and for this opportunity to serve my country,” she wrote. By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • NEMA Grants ESIA Certificate for TILENGA Oil Development Project

    After months of review and consultations, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) granted Certificate of Approval for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process for the TILENGA Oil development project in Nwoya and Buliisa districts. This paves way for the oil companies to proceed with other vital steps towards making of the Final investment Decision (FID).

    The Certificate of Approval was issued on 15th April 2019 and was awarded to Total E&P Uganda (TEPU) and Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Ltd (TUOP) for the proposed development of six oil fields (with 34 oil production pads), an industrial area, buried pipelines and other supporting infrastructure for License Areas 1 and 2 operated by TEPU and TUOP respectively.

    The approvals followed public hearings in the oil host communities of Buliisa and Nwoya districts (and neighboring districts of Hoima, Masindi, and Pakwach) on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report. However, some Civil Society Organizations previously urged NEMA not to approve the project citing several loopholes that required serious rectification and consideration before any form of approval.

    The overall objective of the TILENGA Project is to develop the discoveries in License Areas 1 and 2 to enable commercial production of the oil and gas resources in an economically prudent plus environmentally and socially responsible manner using sound reservoir management principles and best industry practices. This includes ensuring the safety of workers and the public, and limiting as far as practicable adverse environmental and social impacts of the projects’ activities, enhancing the beneficial impacts, and also seeking to achieve a net gain in biodiversity and ecosystem services as relevant as possible, in compliance with national laws and international standards.

    An Environment and Social Management Plan (ESMP) has been developed in order to support the development and implementation of the mitigation measures identified in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report. The environmental and social management plan details activities, impacts, proposed mitigation and monitoring mechanisms with associated roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders. Once developed, Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector is expected to spur economic growth and development through growth of local businesses, provision of employment and generation of more revenues to finance the country’s development priorities.

    Before undertaking any project that is likely to impact the environment, the National Environment Act Cap 153 requires developers to undertake Environmental and Social Impact Assessments which are approved by NEMA before the project is cleared for implementation. NEMA’s Executive Director, Dr. Tom Okurut said the oil companies were cleared to undertake oil fields’ development in a manner that will also ensure that the environment is protected. He said, NEMA approved the developments after giving key guidance on the requirements which the developers have to adhere to.

    For instance, NEMA tasked developers to restore sites where they shall be operating. Oil developers normally clear vegetation during field operations, they accumulate debris and other solid and liquid wastes. The developers will thus be required to have restoration and oil spill management plans among others, to mitigate physical impacts and oil spills whenever they occur, and have to be managed well. Additionally, the developers shall be required to devise appropriate Social Impacts Management Plans to enable proper management of the social impacts that shall arise from the planned developments.

    Composition The TILENGA project so far includes Jobi-Rii, Gunya and Ngiri fields licensed to TEPU; and Kasemene-Wahrindi, Nsoga, Ngege, and Kigogole – Ngara Oil fields licensed to TUOP.

    According to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report, the TILENGA project is composed of production well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi Operations Camp, a water abstraction system, Victoria Nile crossing, River Nile Pipeline crossing and some critical roads among others. The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support bases, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits among others.

    Milestone “The issuance of the certificate of approval is one of the key milestones for the development of the (TILENGA) project. It shows the progress being made in the development of the oil sub-sector,” said Gloria Sebikari, a Manager of Corporate Affairs and Public Relations at Petroleum Authority of Uganda.

    The approval comes at a time when Government is undertaking various activities in the area that has been gazzeted for the project. A Land acquisition and resettlement process, negotiations with Project Affected Persons (PAPs), livelihood restoration interventions for PAPs are all on-going.

    The government through its licensed oil companies discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls National Park and South of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district, among other exploration areas.

    Enter UNOC In a related development, Uganda National Oil Company Limited (UNOC) is in negotiations with the JV partners – Tullow, Total and CNOOC to comply with state participation requirements under the Production Sharing Agreements and the Petroleum Act, 2013.

    UNOC is mandated to hold and manage 15% State participating interest in the TILENGA Project. The Company is currently negotiating the back-in into the Joint Operating Agreements (JOAs) that is required to allow for the State Participation in the TILENGA Project. Signing of the JOA will enable UNOC to take an active part in project investment decision making through the JV Partners’ Operating Committee Meetings, including sanctioning of work programs, budgets, contracts and expenditures.

    Overall, the developments in the Oil and Gas sub-sector and particularly the TILENGA project clearly indicate beneficial progress in decision-making on vital aspects required to enable realization of key milestones towards attainment of first oil in Uganda.

    By Edward Ssekika, Robert Mwesigye & Oil in Uganda Correspondent in

  • Ministry, ActionAid to launch project to register ASMs

    Artisan Miners evicted and displaced by Uganda Millitary.

    As plans to properly harness the mineral resource potential by government takes shape, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will launch the Biometric Registration and Management of the ASM segment in Uganda Project (BRASM), on Friday 29th March 2019, in Kampala. The move is the commencement of an arduous process by government efforts to formalize the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) sub-sector, which constitutes 90% of the mining activity in Uganda and is a source of livelihood for many people. Formalization and regulation of the ASM sub-sector is part of Government’s broader strategy of ensuring that mining as a whole becomes one of the key economic drivers of the Ugandan economy as envisaged by the country’s Vision 2040 and National Development Plan II (2015/16 – 2020/21). Much as the development is part of Uganda’s commitment and recognition of international and regional initiatives such as Africa Mining Vision (2009), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) 1, ASM Formalization Guide in the Great Lakes Region and the IGF Guidance for Governments on managing the ASM sub-sector, it comes as a huge boost for the local miners who remain uncertain about their plight in the ever metamorphosing mining sector and mineral development overall. ASM activities had for long been regarded illegal in Uganda though the sub-sector continued to attract many people in pursuit of survival, an aspect that has drawn attention owing to its social inclusivity and potential to improve the livelihoods of many people in impoverished nations. This is evidenced in a policy brief by Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy that will undertake the BRASM project (on behalf of the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines), which linked ASM to the Sustainable Development Goals which form part of Uganda’s development agenda. “On a global level, Uganda embraced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to foster social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic development through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has made strong efforts to domesticate the SDGs to achieve its targeted development outcomes. Mining is one of those sectors that can contribute to Uganda’s development targets given that ASM directly relates to many of the SDGs,” the brief states. Whatever promise the ASM sub-sector held for transforming people’s lives however was thrown to the wind (especially in Mubende now Kassanda district), when artisanal and small scale gold miners were ruthlessly evicted from the mines in August 2017, where over 60,000 people etched a living. The shocking development was widely condemned by Civil Society among other stakeholders. The President of Uganda however argued that unlike other gold mining areas such as the eastern district of Busia which he cited, the Mubende mines posed a security threat as the people working there were not known thus being foreigners. He said the move was necessary to organize them first and know who they are and duly register them. Organising the sub-sector henceforth became a priority of the MEMD as government was urged to fast track the process of amending the mining laws in search of a solution for the miners and avoid such drastic measures like evictions in future. Consequently the process of registration is a precursor to the integration of ASM activities and operations into the broader mining legal and regulatory framework as well as integration of informal ASM activities into the formal fiscal and economic system. This is envisaged to reduce or eliminate the social and environmental negative impacts and externalities of ASM operations, streamline ASM operations alongside medium to large scale mining operations and concessions and capture lost economic value of the sector for the sustainable development of the Ugandan economy. The MEMD therefore is partnering with ActionAid International Uganda to officially launch (as shared above) the biometric registration initiative to enable stakeholders appreciate and how it works and the value it will create to especially ASMs going forward. By Robert Mwesigye Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Museveni, Tullow boss make a deal on Capital Gains Tax

    Tullow is set to sell a substantial part of its assets in Uganda to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda – a farm-down that attracts capital gains tax.

    President Yoweri Museveni and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tullow Oil plc have agreed a deal that will enable oil company enjoy a phased payment of capital gains tax accruing from the sale of part of its assets in the Albertine graben. Tullow Uganda Ltd –a subsidiary of Tullow Oil plc in January 2017 announced the sale of a substantial part of its assets in Uganda to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda Ltd in a farm-down that attracts capital gains tax.

    According to Tullow Oil plc’s full year statement, the Chief Executive Officer of Tullow Oil plc, Mr Paul McDade and President Yoweri Museveni met on January 19th, 2019 in which the issue of capital gains tax from the sale of part of the company’s assets in Uganda was discussed. The 30-page company full year results report was released on February 13th, 2019. The meeting was also attended by the CEO of Total S.A. In the meeting, Tullow Oil agreed the principles for Capital Gains Tax on its $900 million (approximately Shs 3.3 trillion) farm-down to CNOOC Uganda and Total E&P Uganda. Cabinet gave Tullow Oil’s farm-down to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda a green light. “Following meetings in January 2019 between the CEOs of both Tullow Plc and Total S.A, and President Museveni of Uganda, the government and the Joint Venture Partners are now engaged in discussions to finalise an agreement reflecting this tax treatment that will enable completion of the farm-down to take place,” the financial statement reads in part.

    The report adds, “Any Capital Gains Tax is expected to be phased and partly linked to project progress. At completion of the farm-down, Tullow anticipates receiving a cash payment of $100 million and a payment of the working capital completion adjustment and deferred consideration for the pre-completion period of $108 million.”

    A further $50 million of cash consideration will be made and is anticipated to be received when the Final Investment Decision is taken on the development project, possibly mid this year or thereabout. The deal is meant to avoid a possible dispute between government and Tullow Oil over the payment of the capital gains tax. In 2012, Tullow Oil was embroiled in a dispute with the tax body – Uganda Revenue Authority over payment of capital gains tax following the farm-out by former Heritage Oil Uganda in favour of Tullow Oil Uganda, which led to protracted litigation. Uganda came out as the victor and the payment was effected accordingly.

    Final Investment Decision (FID) The report also notes a delay by Joint Venture Partners to reach a Final Investment Decision (FID). “The joint venture partners – Tullow Oil Uganda, Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda continue to work towards reaching FID for the development project around mid-2019,” the report reads in part.

    Mark MacFarlane, the Executive Vice President of Tullow Oil for East Africa noted in the report, “This year the East Africa team will be driving hard towards two Final Investment Decisions on our East African projects which have the potential to deliver over 50,000 barrels of oil per day of net production to Tullow by the early 2020s,” he said. Mark MacFarlane emphasised that Tullow’s East Africa team is making good progress on delivering the potential the projects offer. Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Shs 125 billion withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund irregularly – Auditor General

    Auditor General notes the money was withdrawn from the petroleum fund without following procedures laid down in the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.

    In his latest report to Parliament, John Muwanga, Auditor General has faulted the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) of irregular withdrawal of Shs 125 billion from the Petroleum Fund.

    In the report to Parliament for the Financial year ended 30th, June 2018, the Auditor General notes that money was withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund and transferred to the consolidated fund in total disregard of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015. The 450-page report containing the disturbing news was released in December, 2018.

    Section 58 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015, requires that withdrawals from the Uganda Petroleum Fund to the Uganda Consolidated Fund to be made under authority granted by an Appropriation Act. Section 59(3) of the Public Finance Management Act, ring fences petroleum revenues to financing infrastructure and development projects only. However, from the report, it is not clear what kind of expenditures the money was used for.

    “I noted that management transferred Uganda Shillings125 billion on 2nd, November 2017, from the Uganda Petroleum Fund to the Consolidated Fund, without explicit mention of the Uganda Petroleum Fund in the Appropriation Act, as a source of funding,” the report reads in part. Instead, the withdrawal was premised on the medium term expenditure framework for the financial years, 2015/16-2021/22 submitted to parliament which includes the different sources of revenues financing the budget.

    “In the absence of guidance from the Appropriation Act, which would indicate the activities for which the funds have been budgeted, there is no assurance as to whether the funds were used to finance infrastructure and development projects of Government, as provided for under Public Finance Management Act, 2015,” the report reads in part.

    According to the report, in response, the Ministry of Finance explained in the management letter that the Appropriation Act, provides for only expenditures but does not reflect the various sources of funding for the budget, and that discussions are ongoing to review the presentation of the Appropriation Act to incorporate funding sources.

    In the report, the Auditor General advised the responsible Ministries to align the legal framework to sufficiently provide for a format of the Appropriation Act which shows the purpose, activities and amounts of the Petroleum Funds to be appropriated under the Consolidated Fund, or to be transferred to the investment reserve account.

    The Auditor General revelations continue to cast doubt on government’s willingness to transparently manage oil revenues. For instance, in 2017, a report of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) revealed that $633.7 million dollars (approximately Shs 2.2 trillion) oil revenues had been spent under unclear circumstances.

    The COSASE report didn’t give details how and where the money had been spent, but the Secretary to the Treasury in a letter, stated it was spent on the construction of Karuma hydro power plant. However, the Cabinet of Uganda approved the country’s ascent to the membership of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) thereby providing hopes for more transparency and accountability in the extractive sector, only if the initiative shall be properly applied to its true purpose. By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • NEMA reviews environmental concerns over Tilenga project

    The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is seeking public comments on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Tilenga oil project.

    The name Tilenga is derived from two local names for the Uganda Kob (Antelope) which is called “Til” in Acholi and “Engabi” in Runyoro-Rotoro.

    A notice which has been pinned on public notice boards in Buliisa district indicates that NEMA received the ESIA from Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd for the proposed Tilenga project.

    Under the Tilenga project, the Government through its licensed oil companies has discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison falls national park and south of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district.

    The project includes jobi-Rii, Gunya, Ngiri, Kasemene, wahrindi, Nsoga, Kigogole oil fields. Composition According to the project documents which oil in Uganda has seen, the Tilenga project is composed of well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi operation camp, a water abstraction system, victoria Nile crossing, river Nile pipe crossing and some roads.

    The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support base, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits.

    “The public is further notified that the outcomes of the public review will contribute towards making a final decision of the project in accordance with the Environment impact assessment regulations” a notice released by the NEMA Executive Director Tom Okurut reads in part.

    According to the notice, members of the public have been asked to submit their comments by November 9th 2018. CSO Petition NEMA 13 civil society organisations have asked NEMA to hold public hearings to enable locals have an input in the studies.

    “It is through public hearings that oil host and affected communities, the poor, marginalised and illiterate will be able to make comments on the ESIA to enable NEMA make a decision based on the collective input of all concerned stakeholders” the CSOs said in a joint letter to the NEMA executive Director.

    According to the CSOs which are working to prevent the impacts of oil on biodiversity from Buliisa, Hoima, Kasese, Greater Masaka, South Western Uganda and Kampala, they are concerned that in the notice, NEMA did not indicate that it will call for public hearings before making any decision on the ESIA.

    The concerns of the CSOs are contained in a letter dated October 17, 2018 which was submitted to NEMA by the AFIEGO Chief Executive Director on behalf of the CSOs.

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 1998 mandates NEMA to call for a public hearing where there is controversy or where a project has trans boundary impacts, the CSOs argued.

    “The Tilenga oil project is controversial and will have trans boundary impacts. The project’s activities will include drawing of water from Lake Albert, whose boundaries remain a challenge between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It should be noted that even the existence of many agreements including the Uganda Zaire 1990 Agreement, the 2007 Uganda-DRC Ngurdoto Agreement and others whose main objective was to address the peace and security challenges in the Uganda-DRC border areas through among other things providing for a framework for benefit sharing and conservation of shared resources such as the Lake Albert waters, fish and others have failed to achieve lasting results” Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive officer of the Africa institute for Energy Governance(AFIEGO) said.

    The CSOs warned that if the Tilenga project is not well handled, it may worsen the conflicts and loss of lives as well as environmental destruction in Uganda and the DRC.

    “We need public hearings to ensure effective public consultations that can build consensus not only among Ugandan stakeholders but also stakeholders across the borders who are likely to be affected by the Tilenga project” said Kamugisha, a lawyer.

    The CSO stated that available evidence indicates that NEMA has the skills and interest to do a good job but it cannot effectively play its role amidst weak and outdated laws.

    It is unfortunate that for over four years, government and parliament have failed or ignored the need to complete the enactment and formulation of the new environmental laws such as the National Environment Bill of 2017, the draft EIA and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) regulations of 2017, the Uganda Wildlife Bill and others. Without such relevant laws to improve NEMA’s independence, funding and penalties for environmental offenders, NEMA can hardly operate rightfully.

    ‘It is especially unfortunate that todate, as government and oil companies are finalising major oil decisions that will have long lasting environmental and social impacts, there is no specific provision in our current laws including the 1995 National Environment Act, the Uganda Wildlife Act and others that specifically provides for NEMA to reject oil activities even in the most critical biodiversity areas such as Lake Albert, River Nile, Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, and others of national and international importance,” the petition which was received and stamped by NEMA on 18th October reads in part. Demands

    “NEMA should use its powers not to issue any certificate of approval for oil projects as a condition to force parliament and government to complete the new environmental laws and regulations” the petition stated.

    The CSOs have asked government to establish a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of actors from government, the private sector, religious and cultural groups, CSOs, the academia and others to act as an independent multidisciplinary oversight body to promote compliance with environmental conservation tools such as EIA, SEA, ESIA.

    The CSOs have further asked NEMA to delay any decision to issue a certificate of approval for the Tilenga ESIA until the new environmental laws and regulations are put in place by government and parliament. This will help the country to stop engaging in oil activities based on a weak and outdated environmental legal framework, the petition added.

    By Oil in Uganda correspondent, Bunyoro

  • Mines Director Katto Orders All Illegal Artisanal Miners Out of Mines

    Mr Edwards Katto, Director, Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines Uganda.

     

    He describes artisanal miners as “a menace” to the mining sector

    Edward Ssekika

    In a new twist that arguably contradicts government rhetoric on Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASMs) in the country, the Director, Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Edwards Kato, has ordered all illegal artisanal miners to vacate the respective mines.

    “Those people [artisanal miners], still joking should style up. Now, I’m not only a director [in the ministry] but also a commander of the Minerals Protection Unit of the Uganda Police Force. So, those illegal artisanal miners still behaving like those in Mubende [who were evicted], they should pack and vacate the mines, otherwise, my police force will them help to pack,” Mr Kato said.

    With the Mineral Police, he emphasized the “madness” of artisanal miners will stop. Kato praised the “Chunga Mazingira Operation”, sanctioned by President Yoweri Museveni in which more than 60,000 artisanal gold miners in Bukuya and Kitumbi sub counties in Mubende district were evicted to pave way for an investor to develop the mines.

    The eviction left many artisanal gold miners counting loses without any source of livelihood. The artisanal miners have since sued Attorney General [Government] seeking compensation for their property destroyed during the brutal eviction jointly carried out by the army and police.

    On August 7th, this year, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), created a unit known as Mineral’s Protection Police, within the police force. Headed by Ms. Keigomba Jesca, the Unit is charged with implementing policies, plans and strategies for effective security of minerals in the country. The unit was formed days after the army and police evicted artisanal miners in Mubende district. Minerals have a direct impact on revenue, immigration, law and order as well as environmental management.

    “Artisanal miners have been a big thorn in the mineral’s sector. They are a total menace,” Mr Kato said.

    Kato was on Wednesday 4th, October this year speaking at the 6thAnnual Mineral Wealth Conference at Kampala Serena Hotel. Running under the theme “Minerals: Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda,” the conference is organized by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development.

    According to a report titled, “Understanding Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Operations in Uganda,” by African Center for Energy Policy (ACEMP), 2016, there are more than 250,000 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners in Uganda. Eviction of these miners will exacerbate unemployment and impoverishment, especially among the youth and women who work in the mines.

    Though most artisanal miners do their work without any license, which is illegal, evicting them from the mines is not a solution. They instead need to be helped to formalize their operations and licensed.  Under section 4(1) of the Mining Act, to prospect, explore, mine, retain or dispose of any mineral without a license, any person mining without a license, upon conviction is liable to a pay fine of Shs 500,000= shillings or imprisonment not exceeding one year. In case of a company, the fine is not exceeding Shs 1 million.

    However, in a tongue-in-cheek presentation, Mr Kato pledged to organize artisanal miners. “We need to regulate and formalize Artisanal and Small Scale Mines (ASMs), they have become a menace all over. Government shall organize and license artisanal miners and transform their activities into formidable and viable business entities,” he said contradicting himself.

    Artisanal Miners have formed associations in a bid to formalize their mining activities. However, government has been reluctant to recognize these associations. For instance, artisanal gold miners in Mubende formed and registered Ssingo Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Association. The association applied for exploration licenses. The Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) didn’t decline to grant artisanal miners a license, but did not even give them feedback. Failure to give feedback contravenes Mining Act, 2003.

    “We shall ensure that artisanal mining is a preserve for Uganda citizens and encourage joint ventures for small scale mining operations,” he said.

    In a clear contrast and manifestation of lack of coordination, Mr. Alain Goetz, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of African Gold Refinery (AGR), seemed to praise artisanal miners for their constant supply of gold to the refinery. He said his company will work closely with artisanal mining communities in Mubende to ensure that artisanal miners maximize their returns, perhaps not aware that they were evicted from the mines.

    A CASE FOR KARAMOJA EXPLORATION

    Dr Elly Karuhanga, the chairman Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) asked government to earmark $ 20 million dollars for the geophysical Aerial survey of Karamoja. The area was left out due to insecurity then. “Why can’t we as a country mobilize $ 20 million dollars (approximately Shs 70 billion) and explore Karamoja, a basket for our mineral” Hon. Karuhanga said. Geophysical Aerial survey help to determine the minerals available in an area.

    On her part, Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga pledged to “harass” the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to find the money to finance geophysical Aerial survey for Karamoja.  “We can’t find $ 20 million dollars? Really, I think this is lack of focus and commitment towards the mining sector,” Kadaga said.

    By Edward Ssekika

    Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Leaders in Oil Rich Districts Want a Special Fund to Monitor Oil and Gas Activities

    Waiga village is one of the areas that is being claimed by the pastoralists

    Globally, oil and gas activities are known for its degrading and destructive effect on the environment. In Uganda, there are already fears that oil and gas activities in the Albertine graben could destroy the fragile ecosystem. This calls for increased close monitoring and early mitigation measures to be put in place.

    District leaders from the oil rich Albertine graben want government to establish a special fund dedicated to helping district environment officers to routinely monitor the impact of oil and gas activities on the environment and undertake early mitigation measures.

    Bulisa district chairman Mr Agaba Simon Kinene  said, “As a district, we are implementing oil and gas industry at zero budget, yet we are decentralized,” he said.

    The oil production phase, is expected to generate a lot of hazardous or non- hazardous waste. Therefore, district environment officers are expected to take a center in ensuring that all the oil waste generated and pollution are properly managed.

    As Uganda prepares to started oil production, a lot o  is preparing for  District Environment Officers (DEOs), have often complained of lack of facilitation to monitor oil and gas activities.

    Mr Philip Ngongaha, the District Environment Officer, Bulisa was bolder and called for the establishment of a fund to help them monitor oil and gas activities. He said currently, district environment officers lack facilitation to do their work. “We need a special fund to facilitate oil and gas monitoring,” Ngongaha argues.

    He argued that the fund would help the environment officers acquire modern equipment for monitoring. “You cannot expect an environment officer to monitor noise pollution using naked eyes. We require modern equipment,” he said.

    The leaders were speaking at an oil and gas conference organized by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala last month.

    He argues that given the environmental concerns that are expected to come with the petroleum sector, it is important to allocate enough resources to monitor any changes in the environment and make early mitigation measures. “Local environment committees provided for under in the law but are not in existence,” he said.

    “I wish to concur, we need a special fund for environmental officers, to monitor these activities otherwise, we shall keep taking when the environment is being depleted” Paul Mulindwa, the Program Coordinator, Kibaale District Civil Society Organizations Network said.

    Presenting a paper on the impact of oil and gas on local government, Nwoya District Chairman Mr Patrick Okello Oryema wondered how district environment officers monitor oil and gas activities without being facilitated to do their work.

    However Ms Aijuka Sarah, the Environmental Monitoring Officer in charge of Oil and Gas at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) explained that the authority is already drafting the National Oil Spill Management Regulations and contingent plan.

    “We already have oil waste, but we are still lacking regulations on how to handle the oil waste,” Ms Aijuka explained. Aijuka said the environmental watchdog operates on an assumption the district environment officers have money for environmental activities, an assumption that she said won’t be held anymore but rather consider the lack of finances and see how best to have the people facilitated.

    Edward Ssekika

    Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Why Museveni fired Dr Isabalija as Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary?

    The muddled procurement of the lead developer for the oil refinery could have played a role

    Dr Isabalijja Steven, teh Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy who was until his recent sucking.

    President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday, in a surprise twist of events, fired the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr Stephen Isabalija. Though the President did not give reasons for the surprise sucking, analysts within the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development argue that the messy handling of the procurement process for the oil refinery lead developer could have played a hand in Isabalija’s sacking.

    Mr Isabalija was only 10 months old into the job, after replacing the long serving Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa during a reshuffle of Permanent Secretaries in November last year. Kabagambe Kaliisa is now a Senior Presidential Advisor on Oil and Gas.

    The President appointed Robert Kasande, the acting director, Petroleum Directorate in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, as the acting Permanent Secretary. Mr Kasende, a geologist by profession, was also the project manager for the oil refinery project.

    Isabalija’s sacking that started as a rumor on Wednesday, was later on Thursday confirmed by the Executive Director, Uganda Media Center and government spokesman Ofwono Opondo who twitted, “Dr Stephen Isabalija’s contract has been terminated and he is to be paid one month in lieu of notice,” Opondo said.

    He said the President did not give any reason for the terminating Isabalija’s contract. During his short stint at the Ministry, Isabalija’s oversaw the eviction of over 60,000 artisanal gold miners in Kitumbi Sub county, Mubende district. Government claims that the artisanal gold miners were illegally mining gold and want an “investor” to take over.

    MESSY OIL REFINERY PROCUREMENT

    Dr Isabalija an academic and former Vice Chancellor, Victoria University, could have burnt his fingers in the procurement process of the lead developer for the oil refinery.

    Early this month, Dr Isabalija announced Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC), a consortium of American and Italian companies, as the winner for the oil refinery deal. This edged out a Chinese Consortium led by Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, that accused the selection panel of corruption.

    Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, was granted a mining lease to develop the Tororo Phosphates.

    The Chinese consortium includes; Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, Guangdong Silk Road Fund, China Africa Fund for International Corporation, China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPNC) and the East Design Institute.

    After being edged out in the $ 4bn dollars refinery deal, the Chinese penned a letter dated 8, August, 2017, to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni copied to the Prime Minister in which the consortium expressed shock at the announcement.

    “We are taken aback by press reports indicating that the government of Uganda has reportedly selected a group known as Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium to develop the refinery project. Incidentally, the same press reports indicate that the Dong Song – CPECC consortium had been appraised as the best bidder with 83.38 percent,” reads the letter signed by LV Weidong, on behalf of Dong Song led consortium.

    It added, “The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Dong Song – CPECC consortium has never disintegrated. It remains strong and committed to invest in the development of Uganda Refinery project provided the concerns raised in the consortium’s earlier letters are addressed. The letter reads.

    The consortium even threatened to challenge the procurement process that led to the selection of any other consortium in courts of law. They also complained that the only reason, they were denied a deal is because, the consortium members are close to President Yoweri Museveni.

    “Dong Song is suffering because it is close to the President. There is no way it can give money to people involved in the selection process,” an official is reported to have said. This year, two officials from the Ministry of Finance tried to solicit for money from Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, the president laid them a trap and they were arrested.

    The Chinese also alleged corruption in the way the deal was awarded. “So, we were edged out, because they know we can’t give them money,” an official of the consortium is reported in the local press to have complained.

    One of the Consortium members, CPECC, a subsidiary of CNPC has demonstrated capacity having built refineries in South Sudan, Algeria, Chad and Niger. However, selection committee is reported to have edged out Dong Song consortium because they didn’t provide their intended financiers.

    The Chinese are also known of using powerfully connected individuals some of them members of the first family to broker their deals. Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, used the President to get the Tororo Phosphates Deal. It is this politics of balancing interests, that could have landed Isabalija in trouble and could have had played a role in sacking.