Wednesday February 15 2012

Govt tables another oil Bill

By Isaac Imaka

Government has tabled another Bill to streamline management of the oil sector in the country if it is passed into law.

The Junior Minister for Energy, Mr Peter Lokeris, tabled before the House the first reading of the Petroleum Refining, Gas Processing and Conversion, Transportation and Storage Bill 2012 yesterday.

This is one of the Bills that were demanded by Parliament as per resolution number one that came out of the famous two-day oil debate in October last year.

The objective of the Bill is to give full effect to Article 244 of the Constitution, regulate petroleum refining, gas processing and conversion, transportation and storage of petroleum.

Article 244 vests the entire property and control of all minerals and petroleum in or under any land or waters in Uganda and the government on behalf of the country.

Section (2) of the article gives Parliament powers to make laws to manage the petroleum and mineral sector.
The Bill will address mid-stream petroleum operations and if passed into law, will work together with the Petroleum Exploration, Development Bill 2012 which was tabled last week to further amend deficits in the existing law.

A brief in the Bill states: “The Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, CAP 150 spans a period of more than two decades and is now obsolete and does not cover the midstream petroleum operations, environmental protection, conservation, and the new emerging challenges created by the discovery of commercial petroleum resources in Uganda.”

It also provides for healthy, safe environment and cessation of petroleum activities and decommissioning of petroleum facilities and infrastructure.

Part VII of the Bill also seeks to provide for State participation and national content to ensure that Ugandans benefit through putting emphasis on provision of goods and services, entrepreneurship, training and employment.

“The licensee, its contractors and subcontractors shall give priority to competent citizens of Uganda and registered entities owned by Ugandans in the provision of goods and services,” reads clause 54(1) of the Bill.

The Bill was committed to the Committee of Natural Resources by the Speaker for scrutiny but did not give it a time frame for second reading.