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Govt to conduct public hearings for the Kingfisher oil project

Extractives Governance Project Coordinator Didas Muhumuza speaking to the media about youth engagement and involvement in the oil sector at a recently ended Pakasa Forum organised by ActionAid Int. Uganda and other partners.

AAIU to conduct pre-hearing and community engagements to prepare communities to engage government

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) will next
week(19th-21st June, 2019) hold a Public hearing for the Environmental
and Social impact Assessment for Kingfisher oil project among affected
communities.

“The public is further notified that there
will be two public hearings Wednesday 19th June 2019 at Rwemisanga
primary school in Kyangwali subcounty in Kikuube district and Friday 21st
June 2019 at Kabaale primary school in Buseruka subcounty in Hoima district
from 9am to 5Pm” a public notice released by PAU this morning reads in part.

The public hearings will be held in
accordance with the National Environmental regulations 1998.

The hearings bring together the developer and
relevant stakeholders to express opinions and offer suggestions on the proposed
project to influence the decision making process during the review of the ESIA.

The Kingfisher oil project is located on the
south Eastern side of Lake Albert in Buhuka parish, Kyangwali subcounty in
Kikuube district.

In 2012, Government awarded an oil production
license to CNOOC Uganda Ltd to develop and operate the Kingfisher oil field.

Funders

The project will be funded by CNOOC Uganda,
Total Exploration and Production Uganda (TEPU), Tullow Uganda Operations Pty
Ltd (TUOP) and Uganda National Oil Company which represents Uganda’s business
interests in the oil industry.

The project component includes development of
four well pads that will hold 20 production oil wells and 11 water injection wells.

The project will have a Central Processing
facility (CPF), flowlines to transport well fluids from production wells to the
CPF.

The project will also have a 46kilometre-long
feeder pipeline to transport crude oil from the CPF at Kingfisher field development
area to a delivery point located at Kabaale parish in Hoima district.

The design of the project indicates that the
project will have camps to host oil workers, a materials lay down yard, a
jetty, and airfield and infield access roads.

PAU is yet to announce the presiding officer
of the hearings. However, the first hearings for the Tilenga oil project were presided
over by Dr Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry
of Energy and Mineral development.

“PAU’s role as a regulator is to ensure that
oil and gas activities create value for the country and more so to the host
communities. The ESIA process is also meant to ensure that all views of
stakeholders are known and addressed. So we welcome feedback” Gloria Sebikari,
a manager of corporate affairs and Public relations at PAU told oil in Uganda.

CSOs
petition

On 14th May, fifteen civil society
organisations led by the African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) wrote
to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) expressing
reservations about the Kingfisher oil project.

“The undersigned CSOs note with concern that the
Kingfisher project area is an area with critical ecosystems including Lake
Albert, Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kamansinig River, River Nile and others.
The project area also has communities that entirely depend on fishing for food,
income and other critical aspects. The project must therefore be handled with
utmost care and Uganda’s laws must be abided by to avoid or minimize oil
impacts on the environment and communities” the petition which was delivered to
NEMA on 14th May reads in part.

The Non-Technical Summary (NTS) of the
Kingfisher oil project ESIA report states that the mitigations for the social
and economic impacts of the land acquisitions under the Kingfisher project and
resettlement activities shall be in the Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs).
However, CSOs observed that  these RAPs
are not part of the Kingfisher ESIA report.

If the RAPs are not part of the current ESIA
report, it means that the developer presented an incomplete ESIA to NEMA and
therefore any comments will be based on incomplete reports, the petition signed
off by the AFIEGO Chief Executive officer Dickens Kamugisha.

“This is contrary to the objective that
necessitated Uganda’s shift from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
regime to the ESIA regime. Undertaking and reviewing an ESIA requires that one
assesses the environmental and social impacts of any proposed project as one
component” Kamugisha who is a lawyer, says.

The Kingfisher ESIA report notes that a road
will be constructed through Bugoma forest to support the Kingfisher oil project
activities. In addition to the roads, a feeder pipeline for the Kingfisher
project, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), an airfield in Buhuka and
other infrastructure are being planned.

“These developments will open up the forest
in particular and the oil region at large to an influx of people who will
migrate to the oil region in search of jobs and other oil related
opportunities. This will negatively impact on local community livelihoods and
will result in degradation of Bugoma forest. Consequently, there will be a
reduction in income from tourism and the role Bugoma forest plays in the
provision of water to the entire catchment will be compromised” the CSOs stated.

The CSOs
asked the developers of the Kingfisher oil project to present detailed plan
with a budget, work plan and timelines to show how the Bugoma central forest
reserve will be protected from the direct and indirect dangers of oil
exploitation.

The ESIA report indicates that millions of
cubic metres of water will be extracted from Lake Albert for oil activities.

“However, there is no framework for
addressing conflicts over the utilisation of the Lake Albert waters and other
resources such as fish by DRC and Uganda. The two countries continue to
conflict over the boundaries of the lake. With the proposed extraction of huge
amounts of water from Lake Albert by the Kingfisher oil project, it is not
clear how the DRC will react to the decision considering that Uganda and DRC
have in the recent past been conflicting over Lake Albert to the extent that
since discovery of oil in 2006, some people including a Heritage Oil company
Engineer have been killed on the lake due to conflicts” the petition said.

ActionAid to conduct pre-hearings

ActionAid International Uganda will hold sub
pre-community engagement sessions to enable better preparation for meaningful
participation and involvement of community members in the public hearings and
other subsequent processes.

These shall be held in Hoima, Buseruka,
Kikuube and Kyangwali districts starting 18th to 20th
June 2019.

According to AAU’s Extractives Project Coordinator
Didas Muhumuza, AAIU has carried out such engagements before in Buliisa that
created real time debate, a move that PAU, NEMA and the oil companies
appreciated and equally engaged to ensure that communities are satisfied with possible
benefit from the sector.

Oil in Uganda correspondent in Bunyoro