All you need to know about oil projects

Drilling of geotechnical boreholes along the water pipeline route from Mbegu. PHOTO | PAUL MURUNGI

What you need to know:

  • It is ideal that Ugandans understand which projects is doing what and what it is expected to deliver. Today, we look at different projects within the Albertine Graben Development Area. 

Many of you have already heard these project titles and names  thrown around. Some wonder what they are all about.  Who is working on what and what they are expected to deliver as Uganda aims for first oil in 2025. 

The $10b investment into the Lake Albert development project, which was announced recently, covers different projects such as Tilenga and Kingfisher upstream oil projects and construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania.   

The upstream activities include; drilling of wells, construction of facilities and production and processing of crude oil.

The Tilenga project, operated by Total Energies, and the Kingfisher project, operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), are expected to start producing oil in 2025 and to reach a cumulative plateau production of 230,000 barrels per day.

In the oil industry, an oil barrel is defined as 42 US gallons, which is about 159 litres of oil.

The upstream partners are Total Energies holding 56.67 percent, CNOOC at 28.33 percent and Uganda National Oil Company at 15 percent.

Products from the oil fields will be transported to the port of Tanga in Tanzania through the East African crude oil cross-border pipeline, whose shareholders are Total Energies with 62 percent, UNOC at 15 percent, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation at 15 percent and CNOOC at 8 percent.  

The upstream projects are currently at the development stage of critical infrastructure that will aid oil drilling and production.

In this article, we take a microscopic view of each project, giving details of what it is.

The Tilenga project

The name ‘Tilenga’ is a derivative of two local names for the Uganda Kob. ‘Til’ in Acholi or Alur and ‘Engabi’ in Lugungu. The word represents languages from Tilenga project host communities. Tilenga is located in the Buliisa and Nwoya districts in Lake Albert. It includes the development of six fields and the drilling of around 400 wells from 31 locations.

The project has both permanent and temporary project components. The permanent project components include drilling the 400 wells over 31 well pads across six fields (Jobi Rii, Ngiri, Gunya, Kigogole, Nsoga, Kasemene and Wahrindi).

A well pad is an area extending to the limit of disturbance of the grading plan for a drilling site where a well is to be drilled and where drill rigs, pumps will be planted.

The Tilenga project will also comprise of an industrial area with a Central Processing Facility operating 24 hours, an operators camp, operations support base, drilling base and drilling camp, cuttings re-injection facilities or liquid mud plant, a lake water abstraction system, oil production and water injection and an electrical network, Tangi Operation Support Base and project road network, which will involve opening new roads and upgrading existing ones.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda indicates the preparation of the 700 acres of industrial area land is at 35 percent completion at the end of 2021 and expected to be concluded by mid-2022.  

The Tilenga temporary project components includes construction camps and support bases (north and south of River Nile), quarries and borrow pits including inside Murchison Falls National Park.

Drilled oil will be delivered through buried pipelines to a treatment plant in Kasenyi, for separation and treatment of the fluids (oil, water, gas)

One of the oil fields to be developed is located inside Murchison Falls Park. The others are located outside the park, south of the Victoria Nile in sparsely populated rural areas and activities that are essentially agricultural.

Acquisition of land for the Tilenga, Kingfisher and EACOP projects continued during 2020 and 2021.

The land for the Tilenga Industrial area was fully acquired, with the 622 affected persons compensated. 

This compensation included handover of 30 residential houses to those whose primary residents who were impacted.

At the end of 2021, at least 2,200 out of a total of 4901 affected persons had been compensated, and the construction of 31 out of 184 resettlement houses has commenced.

East African Crude Oil Pipeline

The project involves construction of a buried and 1,443 kilometer pipeline from Kabaale in Hoima District to the port of Tanga in Tanzania, a storage terminal and loading jetty in Tanga.

It includes six pumping stations that will maintain the flow and pressure by receiving oil from the pipeline powered by solar plants in Tanzania, and a heat tracing system.

The pipeline will also have 27 heating stations and two pressure reduction stations. 

The physical characteristics of the waxy oil from Tilenga means that it needs to be kept at a temperature of 50° Celsius for transportation.

The route of the pipeline was designed to avoid areas of environmental interest as much as possible, and generally crosses farming areas.  

The land requirements for the pipeline in Uganda is comprised of construction camps covering 172 acres, pipeline right of way and orphan land, covering 2,745 acres and feeder roads covering 182 acres.

The land acquisition process has progressed with disclosure of the compensation due to and opening of bank accounts for the project affected persons. 

However, the compensation is yet to officially kick off.

The Kingfisher Development Area       

The area covers the Kingfisher field in Kikuube District with plans for future tie-in of Mputa-Nzizi-Waraga fields in Kaiso-Tonya, Hoima District.

The project, which is operated by CNOOC includes the development of a Central Processing Facility with a capacity of 40,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Kingfisher development wells will be highly deviated wells from onshore surface locations targeting the offshore reservoirs.

The project comprises of 31 wells to be drilled on four well pads and 19 kilometre of flow-lines to connect the fields to the Central Processing Facility.

Other supporting infrastructure such as temporary and permanent camps, a materials yard, a jetty and several access roads, among other key infrastructure.