Historic day as Uganda starts drilling its oil


It was a momentous occasion on Tuesday when President Museveni launched the spudding process of its oil in the Kingfisher area in Kikuube district to ensure the East African country joins the club of oil producing nations in the world.

Spudding is the process of beginning or commissioning of drilling a well whether for exploration, appraisal or development or production and in Uganda’s case, it was for production purposes.

Speaking during the function, President Museveni reiterated government's commitment to use oil and petroleum resources carefully for a long time now that the country has got capacity and expertise on what to do in the oil and gas sector.

“We shall look for all these oils and use them carefully for a long time,” Museveni said.

He also saluted Ugandan scientists for discovering oil resources in 2006 after the British’s initial attempt in 1920  that he said saw oil oozing to the surface at Kibiro but later said it had evaporated according to the report of the commissioner of Geology by then.

The president explained that a few days into government in 1986, a group of experts from Shell VP came and wanted to sign an agreement with him about oil exploration in Uganda but declined since he did not have anybody with knowledge about oil in his government by then.

He later sponsored Ugandans to train in petroleum studies and after return to the country in 1989, they embarked on the journey to discover oil that they later in 2006 found.

“This is where I want to appeal to leaders. Avoid bumping into things you don’t know about. If you are not sure of something, ask and you will be helped. I’m very happy for these people (scientists) who went for training. When they came back, they didn’t let us down. I thank them very much and I salute them,” Museveni said.

The president applauded the partner oil companies for bringing their experience and resources to invest in Uganda’s oil industry.

“I want to thank CNOOC for moving, I hope others are also moving. We are therefore moving forward with the oil. For us here we are very careful. We shall develop our oil resources but also develop solar energy.”

On the other hand, the president urged Ugandans to engage in agriculture and produce food that will be consumed by those working in oil fields.

“That is one of the areas where you can tap wealth.”

The president however cautioned against encroachment on Bugoma forest that he said  is so influential in environmental protection.

The Vice President Jessica Alupo described the occasion as “a very big milestone” for the country.

The Minister for Energy Ruth Nankabirwa also reiterated the role played by oil companies to ensure the country reaches the milestone.

She noted that the refinery project continues to register significant progress and the Albertine Graben Energy Consortium undertook front end engineering and design that was approved by government in July 2022, adding that the environmental social impact assessment study is also near completion.

“We have made sure that we leave no stone unturned on all the international requirements because we know that not everybody wishes Uganda and Africa well. What we have done is to make sure that we have put in place all the requirements. We are going to drill, knowing that we have taken care of environmental, health and safety issues.”

The Tanzanian ambassador to Uganda, Dr. Aziz Mlima who represented the country’s minister for energy said they remain committed to the EACOP project and so far about $120 million has been contributed in addition to compensating project affected persons.

The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Zhang Lizhong congratulated Uganda on the spudding of Kingfisher Oil Field, describing it as an important milestone not only in the development of Uganda's oil industry but also a major event in China-Uganda cooperation that is celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations.

“The Kingfisher Oilfield Project invested by CNOOC is China's largest investment project in Uganda now. I firmly believe that it will bring new development opportunities to the Ugandan economy, and will certainly contribute more to the practical cooperation between our two countries,” Lizhong said.

The CNOOC Uganda Limited president, Chen Zhuobiao, described the event as a great event as a great step towards achieving Uganda’s first oil by 2025.

Earlier, President Museveni had  commissioned  the Kingfisher oil management, waste management, treatment and disposal facility constructed by Luwero Industries Limited; a subsidiary commercial arm of the UPDF.

The facility is located at Ikamiro -A- Village, Kyangwali Parish, Kyangwali Sub County in Kikuube.

Kingfisher area

The Kingfisher Development Area, located South of Lake Albert in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuube District covers an area of approximately 344 km2.

The Buhuka flat area where the Kingfisher oil field is located, has eleven (11) villages.

The rea is operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

The drilling rig, LR8001, arrived in Mombasa on September 12, 2022, and a total of 280 trucks delivered it in bits at the Pad-2 site in the mid-western Uganda district of Kikuube. Its erection and installation works were concluded in November 2022 following third-party inspections.

According to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the oil and gas resources that have been discovered in Uganda to date, are close to 6.5 billion barrels in place in the Albertine Graben.

Out of the 6.5 billion barrels, the country  expects to recover about 1.4 billion barrels, at a peak production rate of about 230,000 barrels per day.


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