Uganda to award new oil exploration licences in eight years

Permasense2Current operators in Uganda include Tullow Oil, CNOOC and Total. (Image source: Ken Hodge/Flickr)Uganda has launched oil exploration licensing round for six blocks in Lake Albertine Graben Rift Basin, thereby lifting a moratorium that had been in place since 2007

Irene Muloni, energy minister of Uganda, said, “We have estimated 6.5bn barrels of oil from the exploration work at the basin. New licenses would be issued by the end of 2015.”

The blocks — Ngassa, Taitai and Karuka, Ngaji, Mvule, Turaco and Kanywantaba — cover a total of 2,982 sq km along Uganda’s western border. Companies are expected to submit bids for the blocks by May 2015 and those with successful bids will commence talks with government, noted Muloni.

Less than 10 per cent of the Albertine Graben Rift Basin has been licensed and more than 400 companies have already expressed interest in the Ugandan acreage, added Muloni.

So far, 21 oil and gas discoveries have been made in the Albertine Graben Rift Basin, a region where only China’s CNOOC has been granted a production licence.

The price turmoil has raised concerns among investors developing frontier projects in Africa. But analysts have said there are growing signs that cheap oil is spurring demand, which could support prices.

“Low prices will not stop us from continuing with our preparations. Hopefully by the time we start production, the trend will be upward,” the energy minister added.

Uganda had planned to start oil production in 2012, but a string of disputes with major oil companies had delayed the projects. However, East Africa has been a focus for the exploration firms after a number of oil and gas discoveries have been made in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in the past few years.

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