Ugandan govt. releases oil exploration map

Sept. 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM
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KAMPALA, Uganda, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Uganda's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has released an oil exploration draft map.

The cartography details lands targeted for the construction of an oil refinery in Buseruka Sub-county in the Hoima district.

With geological estimates placing Ugandan potential reserves at around 2.5 billion barrels of oil, Uganda is expected soon to join Nigeria, Angola and Sudan among sub-Saharan Africa's major crude producers.

Resident of more than a dozen towns -- about 8,000 people -- are to be compensated and evicted, Bashir Hangi, the refinery project's communications officer, said.

"We want to get people's complaints if there is any like spelling errors and under or over valuation of properties on their lands to correct and include them in the final copy that will be released end this month to curb complaints during implementation," Hangi said in a report by the New Vision newspaper.

"We are also moving village to village to receive peoples' complaints. This is all aimed at having a transparent process with full involvement of the project affected families."

The Ugandan government is anxious to develop its hydrocarbon resources.

"(Oil production) is a very big project, which we must handle carefully," said Ugandan Junior Energy and Minerals Minister Peter Lokeris. "Oil is a finite resource and it would benefit the Ugandan people better if it isn't rapidly exploited."

The proposed refinery and adjacent land will cover 11 square miles.

In the past, prospective investors in Ugandan energy reserves have included Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled the country for 41 years before an armed "Arab Spring" uprising drove him from power, leading to his death in October 2011.

Fourteen years ago Gadhafi shifted his attention from support of Arab nationalist causes and focused his gaze toward Africa. At the time he said: "I had been crying slogans of Arab Unity and brandishing the standard of Arab nationalism for 40 years, but it was not realized. That means that I was talking in the desert. I have no more time to lose talking with Arabs ... I am returning back to realism ... I now talk about Pan-Africanism and African Unity.

"The Arab world is finished ... Africa is a paradise ... and it is full of natural resources like water, uranium, cobalt, iron, manganese."

Via the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio, a subsidiary of the Libyan Investment Authority sovereign investment fund established in 2006, Gadhafi invested $375 million in Uganda alone.

British energy exploration firm Tullow, France's Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corp. have collectively invested $12 billion into Uganda's burgeoning oil sector.

Even though it will be at least three years before oil begins to be produced in significant volumes in Uganda, the country's oil sector is already being accused by various non-governmental organization watchdogs of being rife with corruption.

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