As Uganda approaches the oil production phase, the government has issued standards that sector players will be required to adhere to.
Uganda, which imports all petroleum products, will by a 2020 official projection start oil production that will see it exporting crude oil or refined products that will have to adhere to international standards. The 195 standards are expected to be adhered to by suppliers, exploration companies, oil companies, the oil refinery and distributors of refined products.
“Uganda currently imports all its petroleum products requirements from overseas. In order to guide the importation of products and foster local production of petroleum, there was a need to develop a wide range of standards for the petroleum sector,” said Ms Patricia Ejalu, the deputy executive director Technical Operations at the Uganda National Bureau of Standard (UNBS) at the launch last week.
Uganda has proven reserves of oil estimated at 6.5 billion barrels with 1.8 billion barrels considered to be recoverable over the next 25 years. This will be the first time Uganda carries out oil production and in order to ensure health, safety, environment protection and ensure effective regulation by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the standards are expected to define how operations take place.
The focus of the standards is petroleum and petrochemical products, drilling, development and production equipment materials, petroleum management, refining and transportation, and distribution.
“When you are importing products, what you require are standards for products and transporting. When you go into production, you have exploration processes, exploration equipment and activities. All these activities need standards and they are completely different from the specifications of importation.
Also, when you go into refining, you require standards and codes of practice where it includes environmental standards. The ones for importation have always been there,” Mr John Bosco Habumugisha, the assistant commissioner in charge of Pipelines Development at the Directorate of Petroleum, said.
The development of the standards started in 2009 and in part due to budgetary constraints, some processes were delayed. Jointly drafted by the ministry of Energy and UNBS, this concludes the final phase of the regulatory process of the oil and gas sector.
Uganda already has in excess of 2,000 standards in place for various products but not all are adhered to because of poor implementation and enforcement mechanisms that allow importation and production of substandard products.
The standards will also offer an opportunity for local content providers that are expected to participate in the sector to look out for the requirements before they engage on oil companies. On the side of oil companies, the release of the standards gives a clear picture of how they are expected to operate.