Oil Production Timeline Changes Worry MPs

Kingfisher oil rig while at assembling stage. PHOTO/COURTESY

The fluctuating timelines for Uganda’s first oil production have raised concerns among Members of Parliament (MPs), prompting them to request the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ms. Ruth Nankabirwa, to provide assurances that the country will achieve its first oil production by 2025. Initially expected in May 2025, the production timeline was later extended to the end of the same year, creating uncertainty.

Mr. Emmanuel Otaala, a Member of Parliament representing Budama South, expressed his concerns about the shifting timelines, highlighting the need for clarification from the minister. He pointed out that the previous timeline mentioned May 2025 as the expected date, but the recent statement from the minister referred to the end of 2025.

In response, the minister attributed the timeline changes to the efforts of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) campaigning against Uganda’s oil projects. She acknowledged that these factors had led to revised deadlines due to the challenges faced by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project’s funding. However, she assured Parliament that the government had restored stability in the sector and was actively working to meet the project’s set timelines.

The minister also criticized Western countries for trying to dissuade Uganda from oil production under the guise of environmental protection, pointing out their own reliance on coal. She highlighted the global gas crisis as evidence of their lack of authority to lecture Uganda on developing its petroleum resources.

Despite the delays and opposition, Uganda initiated its first oil drilling program earlier this year, marking a significant milestone in its journey towards achieving first oil output by 2025. The Kingfisher field in Lake Albert is part of a $10 billion project to develop Uganda’s oil reserves, including the construction of the world’s longest heated pipeline to transport crude oil to international markets.

CNOOC, TotalEnergies, and the Uganda National Oil Company jointly own all of Uganda’s existing oilfields, with plans to produce approximately 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day at peak production. Uganda’s estimated crude oil reserves amount to 6.5 billion barrels, with 1.4 billion barrels considered recoverable. However, the project has faced opposition from human rights activists and environmental groups, who argue that it threatens the fragile ecosystem of the region and the livelihoods of local communities.

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