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Oil Timeline

2017, March 6

The 1st deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali intervenes in the Rwamutonga land row. In a letter addressed to the Regional Police Commander, Albertine region, Moses Ali orders police to stop any further evictions of Rwamutonga residents, until the main case has been settled before court.

2017, March

A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in the areas of Oil Governance and Transparency implored government to end secrecy in the oil sub sector. In a joint petition to the Parliamentary Committee on Commission Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that is investigating a controversial Shs 6bn oil cash payouts to 42 government officials (popularly dubbed “The Presidential Golden Handshake”). The CSOs argue that the increased secrecy in the petroleum sub-sector is a precursor for an ‘oil curse’.

2017, February 2

Some of the evicted Rwamutonga residents return to land from which they were previously evicted in August 2014. The evictees, who have been living in a camp near Rwamutonga trading center, invaded Block 7 plot 44 which is registered in the names of Hoima Businessman Mr. Robert Bansigaraho. This move was after Mr. Bansigaraho reached an understanding to relinquish the title of the land to the affected community. This understanding was concluded through the Chairperson of the affected persons  Mr. Nelson Atich.

2017, January

Tanzania Government expresses concern over delays in the development of the Hoima-Tanga crude oil pipeline. Tanzania is not satisfied with the speed at which the project is moving and expects Government of Uganda to fast-track the process with the contractors to ensure that it is completed within the stipulated time-frame. The opinion is that land acquisition in Uganda is complex compared to Tanzania, since for the latter; land belongs to government and it is vested in the President, making it easy to access land for investment projects.


Parliament of Uganda sets-up a select committee to investigate a Shs 6bn oil-cash payouts to 42 senior government officials as a reward for winning a Uganda-Tullow vs Heritage arbitration case over Capital Gains Tax in a London Court The controversial case is popularly referred to as the “Presidential Golden Handshake”.


According to the Land Acquisition and Resettlement Framework (LARF), critical oil infrastructures require huge chunks of land, which inevitably will lead to massive involuntary displacements of people, which could negatively affect their livelihoods, if not properly handled. The LARF report is prepared by joint venture partners: Total, Tullow and CNOOC and the Ministries of Energy and Mineral Development and Lands, Housing and Urban Development – after series of studies.

2016, November

Hon. Betty Amongi, Minister of Lands visits Rwamutonga camp and appoints a probe committee to investigate and establish the rightful owners of the disputed land from which more than 200 families were evicted by Mr. Robert Bansigaraho and Mr. Joshua Tibagwa in 2014. Mr. Bansigaraho admitss that he erroneously encompassed the community land while processing a title for Block 7 Plot 44.

2016, September

RT Global Resources pulls out of negotiations to construct the oil refinery, government launches a search for a new investor. The alternate bidder (SK Engineering and Construction) is no longer interested in any negotiations with government forcing it to re-launch a search for a new investor.

2016, August 30

The Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Irene Muloni, issues eigth production licenses to the Joint Venture Oil Companies i.e. Tullow, Total and CNOOC which jointly own the Exploration Areas where production licenses are granted. Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Ltd as the operator of Exploration Area 2 is granted production licenses for Mputa-Nzizi-Waraga, Kasemene-Wahrindi, Kigogole-Ngara, Nsoga and Ngege fields; while France’s Total was awarded production licenses for Ngiri, Jobi-Rii and Gunya in Exploration Area 1. 

2016, July

RT Global Resources, a consortium led by Russia, pulls out of negotiations with government as a lead investor for the oil refinery. This happens after both parties failed to agree on the terms and conditions of sharing responsibilities.

2016, June 8

The Uganda Government earmarks 188 billion shillings towards the implementation of its oil and gas plans in the 2016/17 financial year. The funds are intended to be used in developing the country’s oil and gas resources, boost skills and institutions in the sector. The other priorities in the budget include manufacturing, industrialisation, ICT, road infrastructure and agriculture.

2016, June 1

The Board of Uganda’s National Oil Company (UNOC) appoints Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

2016, April

President Yoweri Museveni announces the decision that Uganda and Tanzania have entered a deal that will seal an oil pipeline of crude oil from Hoima to the Tanga port along the North Eastern coast of Tanzania (thereby abandoning the joint communique with Kenya). The announcement was made in Kampala as the President closed a meeting of East African leaders called to fast track infrastructural projects in the Region.

2016, January

Over sixty Ugandan and international NGOs issues a joint press statement calling on the Uganda government to stop its plans of licensing out the Ngaji oil block (covering Lake Edward and part of Queen Elizabeth National Park) at the DRC border in order to preserve the pristine environment of the Virunga National Park. 

2015, October 22

The High Court of Masindi declared that Robert Bansigaraho wrongfully evicted the residents of Rwamutonga and advised them to seek compensation for the damage caused.

2015, September

Total E & P appoints Mr. Adewale Fayemi as the new General Manager for its operations in Uganda. Mr. Adewale, a Nigerian, becomes the third Head of the French Major’s subsidiary in Uganda in the past three years, replacing François Rafin who barely served a year.

2015, August

The Presidents of Uganda and Kenya issues a joint communique saying they have agreed on the use of the Northern Route i.e. Hoima-Lokichar-Lamu for the development of a crude oil pipeline.

2015, May

The Norwegian government commits an additional 6.5 million dollars to support Uganda’s oil and gas sector in a new agreement signed by the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda and the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. At the same time, Norway encourages Uganda to subscribe to established mechanisms for fostering transparency and accountability such as the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

2015, April 23

Uganda gets its first oil waste treatment plant. The plant is located in Nyamasoga, five kilometers from Hoima town, and it has been set up by EnviroServ International with the capacity to treat and dispose of one million tonnes of oil waste in a day, as well as 500 liters of waste water.

2015, April

A Petroleum Directorate is established in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. Former Commissioner of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD), Ernest Rubondo, was appointed Acting Director of the Petroleum Directorate. The role of the Petroleum Directorate is handling policy making and monitoring of the oil and gas sector.

2015, February 24

Energy Minister, Irene Muloni, announces Uganda’s first competitive licensing round for six blocks totalling 2983 square kilometres. They include: Ngassa (410 Sq.Km) in Hoima; Taitai and Karuka (565 in Buliisa; Ngaji (895 Sq.Km) which traverses Rukungiri and Kanungu districts; Mvule (344 Sq.Km) in Moyo/Yumbe; and Kanywataba (344 Sq.Km) in Ntoroko district.

2015, February 17

A consortium led by Russia’s RT-Global Resources is announced winner of the bid to build Uganda’s crude oil refinery in Hoima. Another consortium, led by South Korea’s SK Group comes second. Many industry observers are quick to point out that RT Global Resources’ Russian-owned mother company, Rostec, is a military contractor that has been involved in large arms deals across the globe, including Uganda.

2015, February 2

Embattled oil waste management company McAlester Energy Resources that was at the centre of a land deal gone bad in Hoima that left almost 200 families homeless announces it is ceasing operations in Uganda. Apparently, the bad press the case had attracted could not allow it to continue doing business in Uganda. The company also reveals it had initiated proceedings to recover the $300,000 paid to Hoima businessman Joshua Tibangwa for the land.

2015, January

Total E&P’s General Manager, François Raffin, is recalled to Paris, six months after he took up his appointment in Uganda. Industry insiders take it as an indicator of the French Major’s growing frustration over the slow progress of Uganda’s oil and gas industry.

2014, December 17

The 92 km road between Hoima and the oil-rich Kaiso-Tonya is completed as part of several other infrastructural developments in the Lake Albert Region.

2014, December 8

More than 70 houses are burnt and several people injured when Bunyoro Kingdom loyalists attack inhabitants of Kaseeta Parish, Kabwooya Sub-county in Hoima. The fight followed disagreements over the control of a seven square mile piece of land bordering the proposed refinery area which the King’s subjects insist belongs to the Kindgom.

2014, September 24

Global Witness releases two copies of the Production Sharing Agreements signed between Uganda and Tullow Oil in 2012. The documents outline the share of oil revenues the Government of Uganda will get and almost every aspect of its relationship with the oil companies. According to Global Witness, the contracts show that “government has got a good financial deal for the country’s oil but has failed to put in place crucial environmental and human rights safeguards.” The Petroleum Exploration and Production Department dismisses the leaked documents as fake.

2014, August 28

Government announces an increment in Uganda´s oil resources from 3.5 billion to 6.5 billion barrels. However, the recoverable oil increases marginally by 200 million barrels.

2014, August 25

Two hundred families in Rwamutonga village, Hoima District, are evicted by unidentified men accompanied by armed uniformed police acting on the orders of a businessman called Joshua Tibangwa. The land, totalling 485 hectares, was being claimed by Mr. Tibangwa for lease to American company McAlester Energy Resources Limited to construct a waste management facility.

2014, July 16

The Uganda Tax Appeals Tribunal rules against Tullow Oil and orders the company to pay $ 407 million to the Uganda government in accumulated Capital Gains Tax resulting from the sale of its oil blocks to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Total E&P in 2012. Ugandans laud the verdict as a victory for developing countries against ‘big business.’ Tullow Oil vows to challenge the ruling.

2014, JULY 14

President Museveni nominates members of the National Petroleum Authority and the National Oil Company. Eleven nominees are passed by the Appointments Committee of Parliament but two are rejected on grounds of inadequate experience. Businessman Emmanuel Katongole is approved to Chair the National Oil Company.

2014, July

Total E&P Uganda applies for a production license for the Jobi Rii discovery in Exploration Area 1, the company’s second application in eight months. Exploration Area 1 is partly located in Nwoya District and falls within the Murchison Falls National Park.

2014, June 28

East African Partner States issue a bid for the planned regional crude oil pipeline amidst reports that more oil has been found in the South Lokichar Basin, North of Kenya.

2014, June 24

The selection of a contractor to build Uganda’s first refinery and related downstream infrastructure narrows down to two companies, a Consortium led by South Korea’s SK Group and another Consortium led by RT Global Resources from Russia. A total of 75 companies had expressed interest in the project in 2013 but only six submitted expressions of interest, from which the two consortia were selected.

2014, June 22

Total E&P’s General Manager, Loïc Laurandel, leaves Uganda after four years at the helm of the French Major’s operations in Uganda, to take up another assignment in Bolivia, South America. He is replaced by Francois Rafin.

2014, June 6

President Museveni delivers his annual State of the Nation address, stressing that Uganda will begin producing oil in 2017. He blames the delay on ‘contentious issues’ during negotiations with the oil companies.

2014, May 2

Joint Venture Partners (Total, CNOOC and Tullow) launch the results of a three-month survey they commissioned revealing that Ugandans lack the skills to acquire jobs in the oil and gas industry. The survey also gives some figures on jobs that will be generated by the sector, reporting that  at production stage, only 13,000 people will be directly employed by the sector which has the potential to generate up to 150,000 new jobs through ‘indirect and induced’ opportunities in other sectors that will be feeding off it.

2014, March

Government secures land where former residents of the refinery area who opted for physical relocation will be resettled. The land measures 530 acres and is located in Kyakabuga village, Nyakabingo parish in Buseruka sub county, Hoima. Out of the 2473 property owners on the 29 square kilometre refinery area, 96 opted for resettlement, while the majority preferred cash compensation.

2014, February 12

The Wall Street Journal reports that Tullow Oil plans to sell its Ugandan assets. Tullow officials in Uganda decline to comment, with General Manager dismissing the recurrent talk as “a rumour that has no basis.”

2014, February 5

The Uganda government signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the three oil companies detailing a roadmap for the commercialization of the country’s petroleum resources. Particulary, they agree that the country’s natural gas will be used for power generation, a refinery will be built as well as a crude export pipeline to the sea.

2014, February

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) licenses four companies to construct and operate waste management facilities to handle oil drilling waste. They are: Strategic Logistics limited, Enviro Serve Uganda Limited, White Nile Consults Limited and McAlister Energy Resources Limited. The licenses are valid for one year

2014, January 17

Tullow Oil announces two new oil discoveries in the Turkana area in Kenya.

2014, January 15

Ahmed Waduwa Wafuba, replaces Abbas Byakagaba as the new Commander of the Uganda Police Force Oil and Gas Operations Unit. The Unit’s sole responsibility is securing the country’s oil and gas assets.

2013, December 31

Hon. Elly Karuhanga retires from Tullow Oil, after seven years as President of the company’s Uganda operations.

2013, December 16

Government commences the compensation of the 7118 residents in the proposed refinery area, giving them a three-month ultimatum to vacate the land.

2013, December 13

Six firms are shortlisted to build the refinery in Kabaale Parish, Hoima district. According to government sources, over fifty firms had expressed interest in the project.

2013, October 02

President Yoweri Museveni tells a gathering of local and international businesses at a two-day mineral wealth conference in Kampala that he would scrap Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax for investments in the extractives sector because “they slow down economic development.”

2013, September 25

CNOOC acquires the first ever oil production license in Uganda for the Kingfisher Well 1A in Hoima District. CNOOC and partners announce they will invest 2 billion dollars in the project, from which they expect to pump 30 to 40,000 barrels of crude oil per day commencing 2017.

2013, September 20

Total declares force majeure in North West Nwoya district after a team that was conducting seismic surveys in the area encountered two separate unexploded ammunitions.

2013, September 11

The Kenya government announces the discovery of huge underground water sources (aquifers) in the arid, oil-rich Turkana region, big enough to meet the country’s fresh water needs for at least 70 years. Scientists found these aquifers using a combination of satellites, radar and test drilling, a similar technology to the one used to discover oil fields.

2013, September 09

The first ‘oil’ laboratory to test samples of reservoir rocks to determine their oil producing potential is commissioned in Kampala.

2013, July 31

Tullow releases its half year report, revealing that Kenya possessed at least 300 million barrels of oil, enough to warrant commercial investment in the sector. The report also reveals that the company believes the Turkana basin “has similar potential to the Lake Albert Rift basin.”

2013, July 02

The District Court in Washington DC rules that companies do not have to publish details of payments they make to foreign governments. The Court interpreted section 1504 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Act to mean that while the companies must report their financial information to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), America’s financial regulator, they were not obliged to share the information more widely. Total S.A and CNOOC are both listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

2013, June 27

President Yoweri Museveni assents to the Petroleum (Refining, Conversion, Transmission and Midstream Storage) Bill, 2013, making it an Act of Parliament. The Lawgives way for the construction of the first crude oil refinery in Uganda.

2013, June 14

The High Court in London rules in favour of Tullow Uganda Limited in the proceedings against Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd and Heritage Oil Plc, setting a precedent for taxation in Uganda’s oil sector.The case was over an outstanding $313 million in Capital Gains Tax that Tullow had paid to Uganda Revenue Authority on behalf of Heritage after it sold its stake in the Uganda oil fields to the Irish company. Heritage was to pay back the money to Tullow Oil but it later contested the repayment saying Tullow’s payment of the tax to URA was commercially motivated rather than as the result of a valid legal obligation.

2013, June 06

While delivering his State of the Nation address, President Yoweri Museveni reveals that the government and the oil companies had agreed to construct both a crude oil refinery and an export pipeline.

2013, June

Tullow Oil publishes details of the payments it made to 12 individual governments in 2012, including Uganda, where the company reportedly paid $ 142 million in corporate taxes, and a further $ 31 million in VAT, PAYE and Withholding Tax.

2013, April 14

The ruling NRM party expels four Members of Parliament for indiscipline, accusing two of them of belonging to the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG), a pressure group of legislators advocating for greater transparency in the oil and gas sector, but which the party says is “opposed to the NRM position on oil.”

2013, March 21

President Yoweri Museveni assents to the Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production) 2012 Bill.

2012, December 13

President Yoweri Museveni addresses Parliament, only a few hours after returning from Russia, and accuses some MPs and NGOs of “acting on behalf of foreign interests” to “cripple and disorient the development of Uganda’s oil sector.” He singles out MPs Theodore Ssekikubo, Wilfred Nuwagaba and Abdu Katuntu, as well as the Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment (ACODE), a local NGO.

2012, December 07

After almost a fortnight of heated parliamentary debates and intense lobbying by government, the upstream Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production) Bill is finally passed by Parliament.

2012, December 06

Ms. Irene Sekyana is elected Chair of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CSCO) at an Annual General Meeting in Kampala, replacing Mr. Henry Bazira who had led the Coalition for five years.

2012, November 27

Opposition MPs and some of their NRM-party counterparts disrupt proceedings in Parliament during debate on the controversial Clause 9 of the Upstream Bill that sought to create a ‘Super’ oil minister, forcing the Speaker to flee the Chambers.

2012, October 31

Jimmy Mugerwa takes over as General Manager of Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited and Tullow Uganda Limited, replacing Eon Mekie. Mr. Mugerwa is the first Ugandan to head an oil company in Uganda.

2012, March 26

Tullow Oil PLC announces a promising oil discovery in the Ngamia-1 exploration well drilled in Kenya’s Turkana County, close to the border with Uganda.  A company statement says the find was “beyond our expectations” and that “many leads and prospects similar to Ngamia have been identified.”  Kenya thus appears quite likely to join the ranks of oil producing countries.

2012, March 5

Oil in Uganda goes online.

2012, February 23

Neptune drills a third exploration well, Mvule-1, in Exploration Area 5 (Rhino Camp basin, West Nile). The well does not discover oil or gas.

2012, February 10

President Museveni makes a two-hour speech to parliament defending the recent signing of oil contracts with Tullow, and saying that Uganda will take at least 76.2 per cent of revenues deriving from oil. Opposition MPs boycott the address.  Some MPs threaten to take the government to court over the signing of the contracts, and ask the Speaker to strike the President’s address from the parliamentary records.

2012, February 8

Two oil bills are tabled in parliament: the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production Bill) 2012 and the Petroleum (Refining, Gas Processing and Conversion, Transportation and Storage) Bill 2012.  According to Uganda’s parliamentary procedure, the standing Natural Resources Committee will spend 45 days examining the bills and consulting with stakeholders, will make any revisions they see fit, and will then submit the bills to parliament for a ‘second reading’ and vote.

2012, February 3

Tullow signs two production sharing agreements with the government in what is seen as a green light for the company’s farm-down deal with China’s CNOOC and France’s Total.  The agreements cover the 3,000 km2 Exploration Area 1 in the Pakwach Basin and the 170 km2 Kanywataba Prospect in Ntoroko District (which was carved out of Bundibugyo District in 2010).

Tullow is also awarded a production licence for the 344 km2 Kingfisher field in Hoima and Kibaale Districts. According to international press reports, these agreements hinged on Tullow accepting changes to “stabilisation clauses” in earlier contracts.  Reuters quotes Energy Minister, Irene Muloni, as saying that Tullow has also “agreed to the government’s policy of establishing a refinery in the country to produce petroleum products for the country and the region.”

2012, February 2

A group of pastoralists “reportedly invaded the Waraga-1 well site” operated by Tullow Oil Pty in Buseruka sub-county, Hoima District, according to the UK-based oil industry newsletter, Afroil. “A local Toonya [sic] official had expressed concerns about the recent increase in pastoralists settling around the well to access water and grazing lands,” the March 20, 2012  issue of the newsletter reports. “This comes amid accusations from local residents of encroachment by Tullow in the area, which has aggravated existing inter-communal land disputes.”

2011, October 11

After a stormy, two-day special sitting of parliament, in which MP Gerald Karuhanga (Western Uganda representative for Youth) accused Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek of taking bribes to influence the award of oil exploration contracts, members pass a resolution calling on the named ministers to resign. MPs also voted for a moratorium on signing further oil contracts until laws have been passed to give effect to the 2008 National Oil and Gas policy.  They also resolved to establish an ad hoc parliamentary committee to investigate the bribery allegations.  Committee members are later named as Werikhe Kafabusa (Chair), Stephen Tashobya, Julius Njujura, Freedom Kwiyucwiny, Cecilia Ogwal, Hussein Kyanjo and Joseph Matte.

2011, July 21

The USA passes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Pro­tection Act.  One of the Act’s clauses requires all companies that are listed on US stock exchanges and/or registered with the US tax authorities, and that are involved in oil and minerals exploration and extraction, to make annual reports disclosing all payments that they or their subsidiaries have made to foreign governments. Transparency activists see this as a breakthrough because it could force the world’s major oil and mineral companies—most of which have representative offices in the USA—to publish what they pay.  The Act’s actual implementation and implications, however, will depend on detailed, follow-up regulations.

2011, March/April

Tullow and the Government of Uganda sign a memorandum of understanding to resolve the capital gains tax dispute over the sale of Heritage’s Ugandan assets to Tullow.   Tullow pays the outstanding tax on Heritage’s behalf (and then sues Heritage to recover the money.)  CNOOC and Total sign sale and purchase agreements with Tullow, agreeing to pay US$ 2.9 billion for interests of one third each in blocks 1 and 3A.

2011, February

President Yoweri Museveni is returned to power in an election that opposition parties describe as fraudulent and that many international observers consider “flawed.”


Oil and gas finds: During the year, Tullow completes further successful appraisal drilling in Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert), confirming oil and/or gas in 8 wells: Kasamene-2, Kasamene-3, Nzizi-3,  Nsoga-2,Nsoga-5, Kigogole-2, Kigogole-4, Kigogole-5.  In Exploration Area 1 (Pakwach), Heritage finds oil and gas in Ngiri-2 and Mpyo-1.  Neptune drills a second test well in Exploration Area 5 (Rhino Camp Basin, West Nile), but it is dry.  (PEPD)

2010 August

UK consultants, Foster Wheeler, complete and submit to the government of Uganda a feasibility study, funded by the government of Norway, on the building of an oil refinery in Uganda.  According to the study, a refinery project is economically viable: an investment of some USD 2 billion would bring a high rate of economic return, enabling Uganda to become self-sufficient in petrol, diesel and kerosene, while also exporting a surplus to Rwanda, Burundi and parts of Kenya, for a period of up to 30 years. The government of Uganda welcomes the report, as it greatly prefers the refinery option to exporting crude oil.  Later, President Museveni is quoted by Reuters as saying “We should resist ferociously those parasites who want to give away this resource for ‘a morsel’ of food as did Esau in the Bible.”

2010, May

A draft Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production, and Value Addition) Bill is published for public review and comment. Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Oil (CSCO) says that the draft lacks sufficient checks and balances on ministerial control, and may lead to corruption.

2010 January

Tullow asserts its pre-emptive right to buy the Heritage stake in Exploration Areas 1 and 3A on the same terms and conditions that Heritage has agreed with ENI.  Tullow proposes to buy the Heritage stake and then sell on rights in the exploration areas to Total and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation.  However, the Uganda Revenue Authority bills Heritage for US$ 404 million in capital gains tax bill arising from the initial sale.  Heritage disputes the amount charged, but the government refuses to approve the transactions until the account is settled.


Oil and gas finds: During the year, Tullow drills 8 exploration and appraisal wells in Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert). Seven of these find oil and/or gas.  These are: Mputa-5, Karuka-2, Ngassa-2, Nsoga-1, Kigogole-3,Wahrindi-1, Ngara-1.  In Exploration Area 5 (Rhino Camp, West Nile), Neptune are not so lucky.  Their first exploration well, Iti-1, is dry.  (PEPD)

2009 December

Heritage offers its 50 per cent stake in Exploration Areas 1 and 3A to Italian oil company ENI for a “cash consideration” of US$ 1.45 billion.

2009, December 22

Ugandan environmental NGO, Greenwatch, and two Daily Monitor journalists file a case with the High Court under freedom of information laws and provisions in Uganda’s constitution, to require the government to make public  the details of production sharing agreements (PSAs).  Earlier in the year, the UK NGO, Platform, had published a report claiming that the PSAs were bad for Uganda because they allowed excessive profit-taking on the part of the oil companies.


Oil and gas finds: During the year, Tullow drills five exploration wells in Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert), finding oil and/or gas in all of them.  The wells are Taiti-1, Ngege-1, Karuka-1,Kasamene-1, Kigogole-1.  Heritage is equally successful, finding oil and/or gas in four wells—Ngiri-1, Jobi-1, Rii-1—in Exploration Area 1 (Pakwach).  Heritage also sinks two appraisal wells, Kingfisher-2/2A and Kingfisher 3/3A, in Exploration Area 3 (Semliki and southern Lake Albert), confirming oil and/or gas in both. (PEPD)


Uganda’s Civil Society on Coalition and Oil is established.

2008, February

A National Oil and Gas Policy, drafted with Norwegian financial aid and technical support, is approved by Uganda’s Cabinet and adopted by the Ministry of Energy.  It pledges to ensure that oil and gas development will “contribute to early achievement of poverty eradication and create lasting value to society” and promises “high standards of transparency and accountability in licensing, procurement, exploration, development and production operations as well as management of revenues from oil and gas.”


Oil and gas finds: In Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert), Tullow drills three appraisal wells—Nzizi-1, Nzizi-2 and Mputa-3—and confirms oil and gas discoveries in all of them.  In Exploration Area 3 (Semliki and southern Lake Albert), flow tests in Heritage’s Kingfisher well confirm commercially viable reserves.  (PEPD)

2007, August 2

Carl Nefdt, an expatriate geologist working surveying Lake Albert for Heritage, is shot dead in “a shoot-out between Ugandan and DRC forces.” (Kashambuzi, 2010). Presidents Museveni of Uganda and Kabila of DRC meet in Arusha, Tanzania, and sign a new agreement on cooperation in surveying and prospecting.

2007, July 27

The government signs a production sharing agreement with Dominion Petroleum, giving them exploration rights over Exploration Area 4B (the northeast of Lake Edward and adjacent land to the south of the lake.)

2007, January

Tullow buys Hardman Resources.  This gives Tullow a 100 per cent stake in Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert), together with a 50 per cent stake, through its earlier acquisition of Energy Africa, in Exploration Area 3 (southern Lake Albert and Semliki),


Oil and gas finds.  This is a year of multiple finds, which finally confirm Uganda’s commercial oil potential.  In Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert), Hardman drills an exploration well, Waraga-1, which finds oil and gas. In the same Exploration Area, Tullow’s Mputa-2 well finds oil, and Nziz-1 finds oil and gas. In Exploration Area 3, Heritage’s Kingfisher-1 well discovers oil and gas.

2006, November

Tullow and the government sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing to an “early production scheme.”

2006, October 7

President Museveni convenes a “thanksgiving ceremony” for the discovery of oil.


Oil and gas finds:  In a major exploration breakthrough, Hardman drills the Mputa-1 well, finding significant quantities of oil and gas in Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert).

2005, December

The government of Norway provides US$ 4.2 million for a Strengthening the State Administration of the Upstream Petroleum Subsector project.  Its three main components support i) developing a policy and regulatory framework for petroleum, ii) institutional capacity building for PEPD, ii) support for technical and economic studies. 

2005, September

The government signs a production sharing agreement with Neptune Petroleum (Uganda) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of UK-based Tower Resources, giving them exploration rights over Exploration Area  5 (Rhino Camp Basin, in the  West Nile region at the northern end of the Albertine Graben). 


Heritage is awarded a 50 percent working interest in Exploration Areas 1 (Pakwach) & 3A (southern Lake Albert and Semliki).


Tullow Oil PLC buys Energy Africa, taking over their 50 per cent stake in Exploration Areas 2 and 3.

2002 – 2004

Oil and gas finds: Heritage drills three wells in Exploration Area 3.  These first of these, Turaco 1, finds methane but it is too heavily contaminated with carbon dioxide to be commercially viable.  Turaco-2 and Turaco-3 show evidence of oil and gas deposits, but it is not clear whether these are viable for commercial production.  (Kashambuzi, 2010; PEPD)


Heritage sells Energy Africa a 50 per cent stake in Exploration Area 3 (the Semliki basin and southern Lake Albert).


The government signs production sharing agreements with Australian company, Hardman Petroleum, and the UK-based Energy Africa, given them each a 50 per cent stake in exploration rights over Exploration Area 2 (northern Lake Albert).

1998, June

Allied Democratic Forces rebels attack Kichwamba Technical College, within the Semliki area which Heritage is surveying.  The rebels burn down dormitories and 80 students die in the conflagration.


Heritage conducts the first ever seismic survey in Uganda, in the area it is exploring.  The data is “so good that it was no longer possible to ignore the potential that the Graben possessed.” (Kashambuzi, 2010)

The Commonwealth Secretariat meanwhile supports Petroleum Exploration and Development Department efforts to develop “model” production sharing agreements.

1997, January

The government signs a production sharing agreement with Heritage Oil & Gas Ltd., which gains exploration rights over what is now defined as Exploration Area 3—covering the Semliki basin and the southern part of Lake Albert.

1995, February

The government signs a production sharing agreement with a US company, Uganda Works and General Engineering Company, but “they could not meet any work obligations . . . the Minister was forced to cancel the licence in March, 1996.”  (Kashambuzi, 2010).


PEPD is invited by the Society of Exploration Geophysics to again showcase the Albertine Graben in an international convention.

1994, October

PEPD is invited to promote the Albertine Graben as a potential oil prospect at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ convention in Denver, Colorado.  PEPD becomes a regular exhibitor at future AAPG conventions.

1991, March

The government and Petrofina (a Belgian company that merged with Total in 1999) sign a production sharing agreement that gives Petrofina exploration rights over the entire Albertine Graben. The license expires in March 1993, “without the company completing its work programme obligations [under the PSA.]”  The license is not renewed and Petrofina leaves Uganda. (Kashambuzi, 2010)


The governments of Uganda and Zaire sign an Agreement of Cooperation for the Exploration of Hydrocarbons and the Exploitation of Common Fields.  This leads to negligible cooperation in practice. (Kashambuzi, 2010)

1986 – 1990

The Petroleum Unit is “largely devoted recruitment, training and the procurement of equipment, and very limited field work.” (Kashambuzi, 2010).  In a capacity building drive, staff are sent for specialist training in the UK, Norway, the USA and India.


Yoweri Museveni comes to power in Uganda and “suspended all negotiations for licensing until some Ugandans were trained in petroleum matters to . . . negotiate agreements that were not disadvantageous to the country.”  A group of government officials are sent to the UK to study petroleum geosciences. (Kashambuzi, 2010)


A Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act is passed into law and a Petroleum Unit is established within the Geological Survey and Mines Department of the Government of Uganda.

1991, September

The government establishes a Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD).

1980 – 1984

With funds loaned by the World Bank, the Government of Uganda undertakes aerial magnetic surveys of the Albertine Graben.  These identify three major sub-basins deep enough for oil.  In late 1984 a meeting is held in London to attract oil exploration companies, but draws little response because the aeromagnetic surveys are supported by only “scanty data . . . [on] . . . the geology and geophysics and seismology of Uganda.”  (PEPD; Kashambuzi, 2010)


President Milton Obote is deposed by Idi Amin, who at first gives exploration rights to British companies, Kirkwall Associates and Collin Oil and Gas.


Milton Obote’s government gives Shell oil exploration rights. (Guweddeko, 2000)


Uganda becomes independent.


A Petroleum Act is passed by the colonial Legislative Council

1948 – 1951

The colonial government drills ten shallow wells for geological correlation purposes, but finds no indication of hydrocarbons.

1936 – 1940

The Johannesburg-based African-European Investment Company drills several test wells in the Semliki basin, and finds promising prospects in, especially, the Butiaba Waki B-1 well, drilled in 1938.  (Kashambuzi, 2010; PEPD)


In order to advance its joint-venture with Anglo-Persian Oil, Uganda’s colonial government announces plans for an oil pipeline from Lake Albert to Wakiso, near Kampala. These plans are soon abandoned with the onset of the great depression.  (Guweddeko, 2000)


The British government and Anglo-Persian Oil Company agree a joint venture project to prospect for and produce oil.  (Guweddeko, 2000)


E.  J. Wayland, Director of the Geological Survey of Uganda, re-confirms evidence of hydrocarbons, including oil and gas seeps, in the Albertine Graben.  (PEPD)

1921 – 1925

Britain’s Crown Agents encourage three British companies—Britt & Sydney, Chijols Oil, and Grog & Tanner—to invest in oil exploration in Uganda but “there was no progress owing to financial constraints”  (Guweddeko, 2000)


A British exploration team, headed by one A. W. Brittelbank, establishes a camp at the Kibiro oil seep.  The exploration efforts are abandoned with the onset of World War I. (Guweddeko, 2000)


The newly established British colonial administration licenses the British East African Syndicate to prospect for oil. (Guweddeko, 2000)

1890 – 1891

Captain Frederick Lugard of the Imperial British East Africa Company travels to western Uganda to inspect reported surface oil seeps.  The company declares ownership over the oil deposits. (Guweddeko, 2000)