Saturday February 4 2012

Lawyers petition envoys over oil agreements


A law firm representing a citizen who dragged government and oil companies to court seeking to halt any oil agreements being concluded has asked diplomatic missions to restrain any dealings until court pronounces itself.

The lawyers, Ms Bwambale, Musede and Advocates have petitioned three embassies to stop Tullow Uganda Ltd from selling, assigning or transferring any interest in exploration area 3A (EA-3A) kingfisher (Kajubirizi) of the Albertine Graben pending disposal of a court case.

“Our client, Mr Hamada Mulumba, is fully aware that there is a likelihood that the suit property is to be disposed of, to TOTAL and CNOOC which companies are presumed to be of French and Chinese origin. He also fears that the sale is to be conducted prior to hearing of the above suit so as to subvert the course of justice,” reads part of the January 10 letter to the French Embassy. Other embassies are Chinese and British High Commission.

According to the letter, the lawyers allege that procurement of the said exploration license was done in contravention of the laws and that the contentious exploration area has since reverted to government.

Mr Mulumba petitioned court seeking to restrain the Attorney General, and Tullow Uganda from “undertaking any further dealings including but not limited to exploration, production, selling, assigning, and transferring any interest in connection with the oil exploration area.

The matter before court was brought after it was announced that government would sign the deals with Total, CNOOC and Tullow by in January. But Mr Mulumba is seeking for a court declaration that government granted exploration licenses to the oil firms in total disregard of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets regulations.

He also wants a declaration that Kingfisher discovery ceased to form part of the petroleum exploration area for Heritage and Tullow Uganda and that the transfer of interests by Heritage to Tullow was null and void.

In a 2010 letter, former Energy Minister Hilary Onek, wrote that Tullow illegally owns Kingfisher well. “The period within which you are supposed to have applied for a petroleum production licence for the Kingfisher field expired in February 2010,” Mr Onek wrote to Tullow and Heritage.