East Africa: Uganda set to be a major oil producer
Uganda struck oil in February 2008 in Lake Albert region.Foreign firms exploring oil there estimate the country’s oil potential to be more than 800 million barrels while daily production would be 100,000 barrels for between 15 and 30 years.
However, government figures shows that oil potential is more than 200 million barrels while daily production would be 300,000 barrels. Uganda’s daily consumption is only 11,000 barrels of oil.
This means over 290,000 barrels of oil per day will be available for the export market.
Uganda’s Energy Minister, Mr. Peter Lokeris, said top secrecy on the country’s oil resources would be kept for security reasons.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said the 30 million Ugandans will be middle-income earners through oil revenue when oil production begins in 2012.
Apart from infrastructural development such as refineries, pipelines and railway lines, the President added, oil production will solve the country’s energy problems.
The refinery to be established in Uganda is expected to process 6 million tonnes of crude oil annually and that will make the country one of the 50 top oil producers in the world.
The five East African countries will therefore have easy access to oil and this will spur oil exploration in the region which used to be a major oil importer over the years.
Tanzania has however discovered natural gas reserves in Songo Songo and Muazi Bay areas while oil exploration is ongoing in Lake Rukwa Basin, Lake Tanganyika and Mandawa Coastal Basin.
Kenya is still unlucky. It has however discovered traces of gas in Isiolo area which might be of little commercial value. Uganda which is blessed with oil fears of oil related conflicts, corruption and over-dependence on oil revenue.
The oil discovery is fueling internal conflict with the indigenous Banyoro tribe accusing the “newcomer” Bakiga tribe of invading its land.Bakiga are considered as newcomers to the Albertine Graben region as they are thought to have arrived in Uganda from Rwanda over 100 years ago.
Their numbers rose significantly after the Second World War due to a series of resettlement schemes that promised them better life and overshot their kin who were fleeing the 1990 Rwanda and Burundi genocide across the border to join them.
Tension is also mounting between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo on the borderline stretch where oil resources have been discovered. Conflicts on oil resources should not arise in the region as we forge ahead with development cooperation.