Total E&P Uganda has completed compensating residents of Buliisa District whose properties were destroyed or damaged during the seismic survey operations.
Through its contractor, BGP, a Chinese firm, the company compensated owners of 13,663 gardens that were impacted by the 3D seismic survey in Ngwedo Sub county.
In a press release issued on Monday, Total E&P Uganda spokesperson Christopher Ocowun said. “The compensation of the farmers cost about $2.1 million (about Shs5 billion). Eighty per cent of the impacted gardens are of cassava.”
The compensation exercise started in April with Ajigo and Mvule-1 villages ended early this month at Mubaku village.
“The compensation exercise was closely monitored by the LC-I chairpersons of the different villages, Buliisa district leaders, Civil Society Organisations, representatives of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) of the Ministry of Energy and witnesses of the different farmers being compensated in order to promote transparency and minimise cases of fraud,” Mr Ocowun said.
Emmanuel Katumba, 30, a resident of Ajigo village who received Shs 1.6 million for part of his 4-acre piece of land where he had planted cassava, sisal and bananas said he will use the money to buy an alternative piece of land for cultivation. “I will also buy a solar panel to charge phones for commercial purposes” he said.
In October 2013, residents of Ngwedo Sub county, Buliisa District threatened to block oil exploration activities on their land claiming that the compensation rates the oil firms were offering were low. Total E&P is the operator of fields in Block-1 in the Albertine grabben. Tullow operates fields in Block-2 while CNOOC is the operator of Kingfisher field in block 3A.The three oil firms are operating under a joint venture partnership following a farm down of Tullow oil in early 2012. The company conducted seismic surveys to ascertain presence of oil beneath the earth’s surface. Residents claimed that the compensation of Shs 700 for each square metre of mature cassava and Shs300 for immature cassava was inadequate. The oil company argued that it applies rates provided by the district and approved by the chief government valuer.