‘Uganda has more than twice its currently discovered oil’

Tullow Oil Uganda - Mark Jordahl - FlickrTullow Oil is the only company to have drilled successfully in the Albertine Graben region so far. (Image source: Mark Jordahl/Flickr)According to estimates from Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the country has undiscovered deposits of more than eight billion barrels of crude oil

According to officials at the ministry, this would increase the country’s volume of oil from 6.5bn barrels to over 15bn barrels, pushing Uganda’s discovery ratings above most oil producing countries in the region. Currently, its recoverable volumes of 1.4bn barrels place it just outside the top 10 African countries with the biggest reserves.

“As we plan for the discovered resources, there is a lot of potential that still lies out there. Only some 10 per cent of the Graben has been licensed,” said Proscovia Nabbanja, acting principal geologist at the Directorate of Petroleum, referring to the oil-rich Albertine Graben region of the country.

The discoveries so far made are in less than 20 per cent of Albertine Graben whose surface coverage is about 23,000 sqkm. FA Kabagambe-Kaliisa, permanent secretary at the ministry, said, “The Albertine Graben is Uganda’s most investigated, de-risked and prospective sedimentary basin. Therefore, the six blocks on offer present a great opportunity to discover additional resources that will enhance the sustainability of oil and gas production and commercialisation.” He added that the government plans to award new petroleum exploration, development and production licences before the end of 2015.

The six blocks on offer are Mvule (344 sqkm), Taitai and Karuka (565 sqkm), Ngassa (416 sqkm), Turaco (425 sqkm), Kanywataba (344 sqkm) and Ngaji (895 sqkm). All the blocks have been explored before but without much success. Only Tullow Oil had drilled two successful wells in Ngassa and Heritage Oil was reported to have found high concentrations of carbon dioxide in Turaco.

The low rate of initial success may be a reason why major firms like Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, both of which already operate in Uganda, are keeping away from the current bidding. But the ministry believes that smaller players are what is needed for exploration, development and production of any additional oil and gas resources in the country.

“The aspect of small to mid-sized companies undertaking exploration and subsequently being replaced by large oil companies is an established process in the oil and gas industry worldwide,” said Peninah Aheebwa, acting principal petroleum officer at the Directorate of Petroleum.

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