Artistic Impression of Uganda Oil Refinery project . It is planned to sit on 29 square Kilometers
Government is set to table a Bill that seeks stronger safeguards against pollution and waste arising from the oil and gas activities as the country prepares for oil production.
The National Environment Management Bill is intended to address environment concerns in the oil sector that have not been expressly settled in existing laws governing the nascent industry.
“The Bill will deal with the environment aspects of the oil and gas sector and provide for stronger measures for environmental management,” Christine Akello, the deputy director of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) told New Vision on Wednesday.
Akello further disclosed that the Bill has provisions on prevention and control against acute pollution and management of environmental disasters.
Although the proposed law has been formulated, it was yet to be approved by the line ministry before it can be forwarded to Cabinet and subsequently, tabled before Parliament.
Water and environment minister, Sam Cheptoris said the Bill had not reached him for approval and referred New Vision to the technical team overseeing its preparation.
Uganda is preparing to start commercial oil production in 2020. With proven crude oil reserves of 6.5 billion barrels of which 2.2 billion are recoverable, the start of oil production will earn Uganda her place among the world’s top 50 global oil producers.
Since the discovery of the ‘dark gold’ and throughout the exploration activities, the impacts of oil activities on the environment have been a major concern for government and agencies.
The key law governing the oil sector-the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act 2013- already provides for numerous safeguards on oil waste disposal and pollution.
Multiple sections of the law prescribe control of the flow, and prevention of petroleum waste or discharge into the surrounding environment.
The Act stipulates that the management, production, transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of waste from petroleum activities must be carried out in accordance with environmental principles and safeguards prescribed under the National Environment Management Act and other applicable laws.
It further provides for detailed assessment of the impact of petroleum activities on the environment, and of possible risks of pollution arising from petroleum activities.
The 2008 National Oil and Gas Policy also compels agencies to ensure public safety and protection of public health and the environment in petroleum activities.
The ministry of energy is due to award the contract for the 60,000 barrels-per-day oil refinery, in addition to a 205km product pipeline linking several East African countries.