After several months of waiting, the government yesterday tabled a critical piece of legislation that seeks, among others, to regulate the country’s oil and gas sector.
The purpose of the new Bill titled: “The Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012” is to give effect to Article 244 of the Constitution; to keep watch over petroleum exploration, development, production; to establish the Petroleum Authority of Uganda; to provide for the National Oil Company which will represent government interests and provide mechanism on how to regulate the licensing and participation of commercial entities in the petroleum activities.
Mr Kamanda Bataringaya, on behalf of State Minister for Minerals, tabled the Bill which has now been committed to the Committee on National Resources for consideration.
The Bill also seeks to provide for the sharing of royalties; provides a transparent and competitive process of licensing and a conducive environment for the promotion of Uganda’s petroleum potential.
The legislation also provides for efficient and safe petroleum activities and sets conditions for restoration of despoiled lands. When enacted, the bill shall repeal The Petroleum (exploration and Production) Act, Cap 150, under which the sector has operated over the last 20 years.
Two more bills
While two more bills are yet to be presented in Parliament, the eventual approval of this proposed law will open up the oil sector after Parliament in October 2011 slapped a caveat on the signing of new oil deals until necessary laws were put in place.
“The proposed legislation will enable Uganda to develop the petroleum industry in a sustainable manner,” Mr Bataringaya said.
“It will create a predictable environment for investment and streamline operations and responsibilities among the petroleum industry stakeholders and government institutions.”
Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament Moses Ali yesterday asked for the Speaker’s indulgence, saying it was not possible to write the draft laws within the 30 days as Parliament had demanded in its October resolutions.
“Oil and Gas is a new industry in the country, it’s highly technical and quite complex in nature. Cabinet therefore had to take a bit more time to study the draft Bills and carry out extensive consultations before passing the documents which are due to be presented to the House.”
On last week’s signing of fresh agreements with Tullow Oil even after Parliament halted the process, Gen. Ali said: “Government is not entering into new transactions as recommended by Parliament. These issues were clarified by the President in his letter to the Speaker after Parliament adopted the resolutions on oil which are the basis for the Executive to proceed.”
The tabling of the Bill comes as President Museveni prepares to address Parliament on matters of oil and gas tomorrow.