By Joseph Mutebi and Raymond Baguma
The first laboratory in East Africa to test oil and gas bearing reservoirs, as well as determining the quality and quantity of oil and gas, has been set up in Kampala.
The laboratory located on Plot 45A, Lumumba Avenue in upscale Nakasero, is a brainchild of Icon Industrial Services Ltd, a joint venture between local tycoon Godfrey Kirumira and two Dubai-based oil and gas experts Samir Mayas and Saeed Hamid.
According to the online prospectus, the company also has interests in security, hospitality, supply of industrial chemicals, recruitment of skilled personnel in oil and gas, construction of medium to large sized infrastructure projects in the oil and gas industry and industrial supplies such as protective gear.
On Wednesday, state minister for minerals Peter Lokeris commissioned the multimillion dollar laboratory during an event witnessed by several officials from the oil exploration company Tullow Oil.
Minister Lokeris challenged local investors to take advantage of opportunities in the nascent oil and gas sector instead of waiting for foreigners to take all opportunities. He said that the Government does not block local investors from participating in the oil and gas industry.
Lokeris said the laboratory would save the Uganda government of time and money spent in testing oil samples from abroad for testing in mainly Arab countries as well as South America. Also, other East African countries in oil and gas exploration can now test their samples from Uganda.
Kirumira who is the chairperson of local tycoons under the Kwagalana Group urged more Ugandans to take advantage of the prevailing peace and security to invest in Uganda’s nascent oil and gas sector. Kirumira owns majority shares in Icon Industrial Services and is already involved in the downstream oil and gas business as the proprietor of Gelp Service Stations.
Kirumira said that US$3 million has been invested in setting up the laboratory and will employ foreign experts and recently trained Ugandan oil and gas experts. He said that the laboratory has begun work; and a total US$ 20 million will be invested in Icon Industrial Services Ltd which targets to employ 5,000 Ugandans in the next two years.
This comes after Uganda confirmed commercial oil reserves amounting to 3.5 billion barrels, following exploration in the Lake Albert Basin. The country is nearing the production phase with a 20,000 bpd oil refinery set to be constructed in Hoima.
East Africa’s first oil testing laboratory opens in Uganda