Private individuals are claiming ownership of wells and land around Kingfisher, an exploration area, operated by Cnooc, a Chinese oil company.
The Saturday Monitor has learnt that when Cnooc started its activities, a group of people, with the backing of high-ranking government officials, approached the oil company claiming ownership of the oil wells.
These individuals also have valid land titles for the wells and most of the land where the Chinese company is planning to pass a tarmac road to ease access to the Kingfisher. They want the company to compensate them.
Although Mr Dennis Namara, the public relations supervisor of the firm, said their operation activities were fully obligated with the legal requirements and industrial practices, top sources in the firm intimated the land conflict was stalling operations.
They said it was spending more time fighting off possible compensations. Land conflicts have been going on in the Albertine, especially in Hoima District, but none had involved a direct claim on land already allocated to an operating company.
At one point the government put an indefinite ban on the issuance of land titles in the Albertine Graben.
Petroleum Exploration Production Department (PEPD) said the matter was being handled at government level.
“The company approached us, saying that when they tried to access their land, someone said they need to hold on because it belongs to them, Mr Fred Kabanda head of PEPD, said.
“When that came up, we wrote to the ministry of Lands. We have had now four visits to that area; we have had to take Hoima District Land Board to the site,” he added. He said they had also involved the ministry of Water because most of the areas being titled there are wetlands. He declined to name the individuals.
The chairperson of the land board, Mr Safatia Mboneraho, declined to respond to our calls and text messages.