Members of Parliament (MPs) have appreciated the strides made in the development of Uganda’s oil and gas sector. This was during a recently held four-day familiarisation visit for 41 MPs to oil and gas operation areas in the Albertine Graben.
The field visit was organised by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) together with the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) to enable the MPs assess Uganda’s readiness for oil and gas development and production .
“Uganda’s Second National Development Plan (NDP II) 2015/16 – 2019/20 recognises developments in the country’s oil and gas sector as one of the growth drivers for the economy. Therefore, it is critical that Parliament is kept informed of the progress being made, for you to efficiently and effectively play your oversight role”, Mr Peter Lokeris, the Minister of State for Minerals noted during the visit.
The visit covered the Kingfisher Development Area in Hoima and Kikuube districts, the Tilenga Project Area in Buliisa district together with the Nyamasoga Waste Management Facility (EnviroServ), Buhimba Technical Institute and the Kabaale Industrial Park (KIP) in Hoima district.
The KIP will host the refinery, petrochemical industries and Uganda’s second international airport, among other facilities.
Mr Keefa Kiwanuka, the MP Kiboga District and chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the initiative to have an on-site status update of critical infrastructure and progress of all oil and gas developments in the country.
“We are eager to acquaint ourselves with work in the field and what the three institutions are doing. This will enable us provide adequate guidance for the sector during the budgeting process and support the institutions to address any bottlenecks as we look forward to first oil,” he said.
Forty-one MPs from the Committees on Natural Resources; Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises; Local Government; National Economy; Public Accounts (Central Government), Physical Infrastructure and Equal Opportunities participated in the visit. The host MPs from Buliisa, Hoima and Kikuube districts were also present.
Dr Jane N. Mulemwa, the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the PAU, appealed to the MPs to ensure sufficient and timely funding of the oil and gas entities.
The MPs emphasised the need for increased funding for other government agencies that oversee land and environment matters to ensure that they play their roles more efficiently.
They also emphasised the need to identify local content initiatives for the host communities, separate from national content initiatives, and ensure that recoverable costs are strictly managed.
“A successful oil and gas story cannot be separated from the livelihoods of the people in the immediate communities where the oil resources are located,” Mr Reagan Okumu noted.
The MPs also expressed concern on the ability of local companies to compete with their international counterparts in supplying goods and services for the sector.
“The road to first oil includes laying a foundation to ensure that Ugandans benefit from the sector by actively participating in the supply chain. This is one of our core areas of regulation” Ms Peninah Aheebwa, director, technical support services at the PAU said.
This, she added, is being enhanced through collaboration of Government with the private sector and development partners.
“Some of the initiatives we are undertaking include Quarterly Supplier development workshops in Kampala, Hoima, Buliisa and Nwoya Districts to share information on upcoming tenders and projected demand for required goods and services, support to education institutions to ensure relevant training courses at industry standards and certification. These include programmes for welders, drivers, plumbers, electrical Technicians, among other crafts which have been undertaken in Kampala, Mukono, Hoima, Buliisa, Lwengo Districts and at Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba, St. Simon Peters Vocational Institute, Hoima and Buhimba Technical Institute in Hoima.”
The Government and its partners are also taking forward the implementation of an Agriculture Development Programme to support local farmers to meet the petroleum subsector standards and requirements, while also meeting local demand.
The MPs visited key oil and gas infrastructure in Entebbe, including the petroleum data centre, core stores and laboratories, and the office block under construction for the Directorate of Petroleum (MEMD) and the PAU.
The MPs also attended the first public hearing of the ESIA of the Kingfisher Development project at Rwemisanga Primary School, Kyangwali Sub -County, Kikuube district. They urged the oil companies to ensure that all the mitigation measures are put in place to ensure minimal disruption to the environment and social fabric of the host communities.