Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has said it is targeting weekly shipment of at least three million litres of petroleum products - petrol and diesel on barges via Lake Victoria as part of plans to restock the fuel storage terminal in Jinja.
UNOC early last week hauled in six million litres of petroleum products on barges from Kisumu port in Lake Victoria in Kenya to the Jinja pier, where the fuel tankers were transported by rail to the Jinja storage terminal.
Mr Peter Muliisa, the UNOC legal and corporate affairs manager, described the shipment as a “significant development”, a prelude to the company’s plans of increasing frequency of the fuel shipments via the lake.
“Our intention is to ensure that the Jinja storage terminal are fully operational and one way is to use the lake for optimisation. Each fuel truck carries at least 35,000 litres yet one wagon tanker carries one million litres. In this way the lake is far an efficient mode of transport,” Mr Muliisa said last week.
With neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, eastern DR Congo and South Sudan relying on Kenya as the main gateway for imports, including fuel products, Mr Muliisa said the Jinja storage terminal has been restocked to full capacity to market it as the point of pick up as an option to Mombasa or Kisumu.
“Our counterparts in Kenya have fantastic facilities, but once we also get to that level, I think it is going to be a game changer in a way. But first, we are committed to ensuring that the volumes by the lake increase and eventually become significant mode of transport,” he added.
Mr Muliisa also said that with daily consumption of petroleum products averaging at six million litres and demand of 9 percent per annum, the weekly shipment of three million litres is still on the lower side.
The Jinja fuel terminus have a capacity of 120 million litres for petroleum products, but according to the Ministry of Energy, Uganda’s petroleum products imports average at 85 million litres.
Asked about the cost benefit of the lake shipment vis-à-vis haulage via roads, Mr Muliisa said there is optimal benefit to shipment including reducing hazards on the road.
“There is an economic component whose details I cannot share now, but we are monitoring it for period of eight months ,” he said.
UNOC recently ventured into bulk trading for petroleum products still through the Jinja storage terminal and in March signed a memorandum of understanding to supply Stabex International with bulk petroleum products.
The company describes bulk fuel trading as a low hanging fruit in its wide ranging mandate pending starting of commercial oil production in which the company has a major stake through the proposed 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery in Hoima district, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.