Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

CSOs Ask Museveni, Kabila To Save Virunga

Fifteen civil society organizations from Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) working together to promote cross-border conservation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region have written to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Joseph Kabila of DRC to stop oil activities in greater Virunga landscape.

Early this year DRC moved to reclassify two UNESCO-protected World Heritage Sites –Salonga and Virunga National Parks – to allow oil exploration to take place. This move was condemned by regional Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who believe such actions would be devastating for their unique ecosystems.

Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a CSO from Uganda, said destabilizing Virunga ‘could cause a high spread of diseases since animals that have been affected by oil activities in Congo, could cross and affect the ones in Uganda.’

This, AFIEGO said, will affect tourism in Uganda and ‘furthermore the livelihoods of Ugandans that have been benefiting from this lake could be shattered because of the pollution that could take place on the other side of Lake Edward in Congo.’

In the communiqué to the two presidents the CSOs expressed their disapproval of oil activities in eco-sensitive areas and rallied the leaders and international oil companies to avoid such activities in both countries.

Previous attempts to have ecologically sensitive area explored for oil have been swatted by CSOs through outcries and engaging government officials, oil companies and two presidents.

As a result Ngaji oil block in the eco-sensitive transboundary Greater Virunga landscape was saved from being licensed out for exploration in Uganda and British oil company, SOCO International PLC, was talked out of conducting oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park.

And with renewed interest in Virunga by DRC, the CSOs are ‘calling on both Uganda and the DRC to officially commit, through a statement by Your Excellencies, never to conduct any oil activities in or around protected areas in accordance with international commitments.’

They say it is ‘disheartening to see that the government of DRC has set in motion plans to redraw the boundaries of UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites, Salonga and Virunga national parks. These efforts by the DRC are targeted at allowing oil exploration activities in the parks.’

“Your Excelliencies, it will be recalled that the Greater Virunga landscape, of which Virunga National Park is a part, is a biodiversity hotspot harboring some of the planet’s endangered species. Other biodiverse protected areas so critical to humanity that they are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage and Ramsar Sites in the landscape include Bwindi Impenetrable and Rwenzori Mountains national parks (World Heritage Sites), Queen Elizabeth National Park (Man and Bisophere Reserve), and Lake Edward (Ramsar site).

The fifteen CSOs recommended that the presidents cancel indefinitely plans by DRC to redraw boundaries of the Salonga and Virunga national parks to allow oil activities in the parks and indefinitely cancel all plans by the Ugandan government to licence out Ngaji oil block located in Lake Edward and Queen Elizabeth National Park for oil activities.

They also recommend that both governments increase investment in renewable energy as both countries have enormous renewable energy potential in solar, promote tourism over oil to diversify the economic base and increase investments in social infrastructure such as health services, education, roads and others.

They said they are willing to work with both governments to ensure that the sensitive ecosystems in Greater Virunga landscape are protected amidst the oil development threats.

The communiqué released in Uganda’s capital Kampala was signed by), Innovation pour le Développement et la Protection de l’Environnement, CPSC- NK/FPJDD, MAIDENI Asbl, Federation of fishermen of Lake Edward (FECOPEILE), SORADEC/SEPD DR Congo and MERV/SEPD from DR Congo.

Others are Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Guild Presidents’ Forum on Oil Governance (GPFOG), World Voices Uganda (WVU) and South Western Institute for Policy and Advocacy (SOWIPA) from Uganda.

Other Ugandan CSOs include Kasese Consortium on Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity Conservation (CABIC), Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG), Green Organisation Africa (GOA) and Oil Refinery Residents Association (RRA).  

Refinery Consortium Speaks Out On Unique Opportunity To Work In Uganda

High ranking officials of companies making up the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) have said working in Uganda presents them with a ‘unique opportunity’ adding that they ‘look forward to the execution phase and delivering a world class facility’ to help Uganda ‘fully realize its oil and gas sector’ ambitions.

In a press statement released on Wednesday, up the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium officials said the oil refinery projected when executed will this will ‘help develop the industry infrastructure and provide livelihood for the Ugandan people and, by extension, other East African countries.’

Following the favourable evaluation of its private sector-led offer by the Ugan Government, the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) comprised of YAATRA Ventures, Baker Hughes, a GE company, LionWorks Group and Saipem, signed a project framework agreement confirming its selection for the realization of a 60,000 barrels per day capacity refinery with a project estimated value of around $3 billion.

YAATRA Africa is an infrastructure development and financing company which provides innovative infrastructure solutions on the continent. LionWorks is a private equity company focused exclusively on pan-African infrastructure opportunities.

Other companies involved are Saipem, a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction and installation, as well as drilling, in the oil and gas market that will act as services provider to the project investors, and BHGE, the only global Fullstream company, which will provide a comprehensive portfolio of equipment, technical and financial services.

The refinery, to be located in Hoima district, will process crude oil from fields developed by Total, Tullow and China's CNOOC and future upstream operators. The Ugandan government has included in the project scope a refined-product pipeline to Kampala for transporting finished products from the facility as well as the distribution of refined products.

"The Ugandan Government's commitment to fully realize its oil and gas sector and acceptance of the innovative solution provided by AGRC is driven by its strategic goals, leading to achieving middle income status.

We look forward to the execution phase and delivering a world class facility that represents a unique opportunity for investors. The Project will deliver a broad, significant economic development impact for Uganda and the East Africa region." Rajakumari Jandhyala, President & CEO, YAATRA Ventures, said.

"The Government's selection of our Consortium as preferred bidder is a testament to the collaborative efforts of these best-in-class enterprises leveraging each other's strengths to produce a solutions-focused proposal.

When executed, this will help develop the industry infrastructure and provide livelihood for the Ugandan people and, by extension, other East African countries" said Ado Oseragbaje, BHGE's Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ronald Mincy, CEO & Managing Partner of LionWorks, commented "This is a unique opportunity to work with Uganda on a transformational project that will provide jobs and skills to the country through improved access to substantially cleaner refined products for Uganda and the East Africa region."

Maurizio Coratella, Saipem E&C Onshore Division Chief Operating Officer said, "The selection of AGRC will allow the development of a robust proposal leveraging both financial capabilities of YAATRA Africa and LionWorks and the technical resources and expertise of Saipem and BHGE, addressing the Government's expectations for the growth of the energy sector. We are pleased to have been selected to help Uganda delivering this Project."

The Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium will have each member undertake a specific role during Pre-Final Investment Decision (Pre-FID) Activities and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) of the refinery.

Buoyant Oil And Gas Gurus Kick Of Kampala Oil Convention

There is a lot of optimism and energy every time crème de la crème, the movers and shakers of the oil and gas industry gather to plot for their next kill.

Similar vigor oozed at Serena Hotel when Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UMCP), government officials and sponsored took their seats to address a press conference.

The afternoon press conference on 18 April, 2018 was used to announce this year’s two days oil and gas convention which has today kicked off at Serena Hotel Kampala under the theme “Regional Collaboration for First Oil”.

The meeting will be looking at how Ugandans can use East Africa to get the best out their oil and gas. According to Elly Karuhanga, the chairman of UCMP, Uganda should position itself as the hub of oil and gas expertise, service provision and everything oil.

Karuhanga said the conference which will end tomorrow was coming is to accommodate interests of ‘our regional neighbors’. Uganda uses their neighbors in the east, Kenya, for logistical purpose while it needed the cooperation of Tanzania to lay a crude export pipeline.

And with South Sudan, DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania adventuring into oil or gas exploration and production, Dr. Karuhanga says, a well equipped Uganda stands in a better position to serve these countries with the necessary manpower and expertise.

In a similar tone, Sam Thakker, General Secretary UCMP, believes the time is now for Ugandans and their neighbors to know how they are going to be involved in the oil and gas sector.

"We are determined to ensure that as many Ugandans are as heavily involved in this industry as possible,” an upbeat Thakkar told the press conference.

“You have seen the development of the Uganda National Oil Company, you have seen the development of Petroleum Authority of Uganda which is the regulatory body of all companies wishing to participate in the oil and gas sector in Uganda, you have seen MoUs going on between Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda with regards to how we play our roles in the movement of oil and also petroleum products.”

The deliberation at the two conference will largely reflect on the progress of local content development, skills development and further reminder of the opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

With the latest developments in the industry, more enthusiasm and commitment will be witnessed at Serena Hotel’s Victoria Hall, where the high level meeting is happening.

Oil Convention TO Discuss Regional Collaborations

The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) will host its two days annual oil and gas convention on 25th and 26th April at Serena Hotel Kampala under the theme ‘Regional Collaboration for First oil 2020’. The meeting will largely discuss how Uganda can position itself as the regional oil and gas hub.

This year’s theme, Elly Karuhanga, the chairperson UCMP, speaking at a press conference held at Serena Hotel Kampala to announce the Convention, said helps accommodate interests of regional neighbors like South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi who are also trotting the oil and gas development and production road.

Karuhanga acknowledged that neighboring Tanzania is going to allow Uganda’s crude export pipeline (EACOP) to go through their country and allow Kampala export its oil to the rest of the world while the people of Kenya are going to see logistics – trucks, almost over 2000 – on the roads, on a daily basis, coming to develop Uganda’s oil.

“So we need to be on great terms with our neighbors. The people of DR Congo are likely to use the same pipeline. We have our friends in South Sudan, the people of Rwanda with their gas, Burundi with potential of oil – this makes Uganda a very strategic hub for oil development,” Karuhanga told journalists at the press conference.

“We are expecting participation from these countries. We will be looking at our partners, Total, Tullow and CNOOC to invite other stakeholders to come and play a part in the development of our oil.”

Ahlem Friga-Noy, the Corporate Affairs Manager at Total E$P Uganda, speaking on behalf of the Joint Venture companies said Uganda’s oil development is at a crucial point and continue to attract attention from businesses who want to come and invest in the country’s nascent sector.

“We have made tremendous progress. I think that is a great thing to say because sometimes you hear perceptions that things are not moving well but I can tell you that things are moving and they are moving fast.

“Increasingly and on a daily basis, companies are coming looking for business opportunities. We believe that this is a very good sign of the dynamism of the sector and confidence businesses are putting into the project and into the economic environment in the country,” Friga-Noy said.

Sam Thakkar, the General Secretary UCMP, said the convention present a lot of experiences from Africa from which Uganda and East Africa can learn from. “We know the case studies of Ghana, Nigeria and Angola. We have got a lot of knowledge from them in regards to what should and shouldn’t happen. We are pushed to ensure that as Ugandans we are heavily involved.”

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