By Billy Rwothungeyo in Accra, Ghana
It is now close to a decade since the first commercially viable oil deposits were confirmed in Uganda. But the wait for the country’s first oil barrel is still on, much to the chagrin of oil companies on the local scene.
However, Dr. Steve Manteaw, the co-chairperson of Ghana’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and a member of the World Bank’s Extractive Industries Advisory Group reckons Uganda made the right decision not to rush oil production.
“Uganda discovered oil ahead of Ghana, but you have taken your time to develop your governance instruments, but it is also because of the sensitivity of the location of your oil resources, and its potential impact on the eco-system,” he said.
“The fact that Uganda is taking its time to sort these things out is good. We did (rushed oil production), and Ghana has learnt a lot of lessons along the way.”
Manteaw made the remarks on Tuesday while addressing a group of journalists from Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania who are attending the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)’s media training course on extractives in Accra.
“You also have challenge in the nature of your oil, it is very waxy, and therefore transporting it in pipes would provide some challenges in terms of having to warm the pipes along the path,” he said.
After a long period of waiting by private sector players, authorities in Uganda opened up blocks for licensing in February. It is expected that production licenses will be awarded later this year.
The blocks up for grabs are Mvule (344 Sq.Km) in Moyo/Yumbe; Taitai and Karuka (565 Sq.km) in Buliisa; Ngassa (410 Sq.Km) in Hoima; Kanywataba (344 Sq.Km) in Ntoroko district and Ngaji (895 Sq.Km) which runs through the districts of Rukungiri and Kanungu districts.
While Ugandans await the first barrel of oil to come out of the ground, Ghana, which discovered oil a year after Uganda, started production in 2010.
Prof. Paul Kingsley Buah-Bassuah, the chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, which is charged with checking transparency in Ghana’s oil and gas industry, said total crude oil production by the Jubilee oilfields in Ghana was 37,201,691 barrels in 2014, a 4.5% over 2013 production.
He said this brought total production in Ghana to 124,517,510 barrels since production started in 2010.
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Uganda tipped on oil and gas