Activists worried of damage by oil firms

MPs on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament during a recent visit to the oil wells in the Albertine grabben. PHOTO BY francis mugerwa.

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Environment minders say there should be caution during oil exploration activities so as to avoid disrupting wildlife and degrading the environment.


Environmentalists have urged the government and oil firms to ensure that the environment is not damaged during oil exploration activities in the Albertine grabben.

According to the World Wide Fund (WWF), the Albertine Rift Valley is Africa’s most diverse eco-region and Uganda’s proven petroleum reserves are located within 70 per cent of its wildlife-protected areas, including Murchison Falls, Semiliki and Queen Elizabeth national parks.

Activists, government and political officials handling environmental dockets in Bunyoro recently met in Hoima Town to draft strategies on how to enhance natural resources management and agreed to intensify scrutiny of oil activities. “We wouldn’t love to see oil disrupting livelihoods and degrading the environment,” Ms Winnie Ngabiirwe, the executive director of Global Rights Alert, said.

The organisation is implementing a trans-boundary project in the Albertine grabben with partners in the DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. “Any environmental mismanagement in oil operations could spill conflict in the Great Lakes region,” Ms Ngabiirwe said.

The activists also said setting up rigs in Murchison Falls, as well as noise and lights during drilling could affect the feeding and mating patterns of nocturnal animals. However, a communication officer in the Energy ministry’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Department, Ms Gloria Sebikari, said the government continues to put in place measures to ensure compliance with environmental and biodiversity protection requirements.

The Total E & P corporate affairs manager, Ms Ahlem Friga-Noy, said the company was fully committed to avoiding any unnecessary damage on the ecosystem.