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Wrangle. Bagungu and Acholi are wrangling over the Tilenga project name, with the former saying it does not identify with their values
NWOYA. Total E&P has written to the Ministry of Energy and National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), seeking intervention in a wrangle where two local communities are protesting against the current project name - Tilenga.
The Tilenga project lies at the northern end of Lake Albert in Nwoya District and is part of Exploration Area 2 in Buliisa District. It comprises of eight oil fields with about 419 oil wells.
However, locals, particularly the Bagungu and Acholi are facing off over the Tilenga name and want it dropped.
Mr Christopher Ocowun, the Total E&P public relations officer, told journalists during a media tour that they have written to the Ministry of Energy and Nema over the brewing tension to seek their guidance.
“There are conflicts over the project name but all reports and findings during the public hearing held in November have been handed over to government. We are waiting for their feedback on whether to change the name or not,” he said.
Total E&P, Mr Ocowun said, had come up with the Tilenga name to give the two communities a unifying identity but has instead brewed controversy with the Bagungu, who are the majority in Buliisa, demanding that the project be renamed Bugungu.
Dr Enoch Bigirwa, the Bagungu Community Association chairperson, said the Tilenga name has nothing to show that the Bugungu have been considered as part of the project, demanding that it be renamed.
The Acholi on the other hand have threatened not to support the project should it be renamed. Ms Marion Adengo Muyobo, the Total E&P social affairs officer, warned that renaming the project will not be realistic since it covers areas that have other tribes such as Banyoro, Acholi and Alur.
However, she urged government to convene a joint meeting to discuss the matter.
Mr Peter Lokeris, the state minister for Minerals, said the project could only be renamed if locals agree to the proposal.
Tilenga covers jobi-Rii, Gunya, Ngiri, Kasemene, wahrindi, Nsoga, Kigogole oil fields in Buliisa and Nwoya districts.
Total E&P is set to develop six oil fields once Nema approves the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
Tilenga and Kingfisher are projected to produce 200,000 and 40,000 barrels of crude oil per day, respectively.
Uganda discovered crude reserves more than 10 years ago but production has been repeatedly delayed.
Uganda expects to begin producing oil in 2023, Energy Minister Irene Muloni, said recently, indicating a slight delay from the recently revised 2021 target.
“We are now looking at 2023 from Kingfisher and Tilenga blocks,” she told Reuters on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference held in France, recently.
CNOOC, Total and Tullow Oil have stakes in the two areas of Kingfisher and Tilenga.