Ugandan government instructed to reveal oil sharing agreements

Mar 14, 2007 01:00 AM

The Ugandan government has been instructed by members of parliament on the Natural Resources Committee to present oil sharing contracts signed between the government with exploration companies.
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Daudi Migereko and State Minister for Energy Simon D'ujanga were urged to reveal the contracts when they were appearing before the committee to brief MPs on the progress of oil exploration and other salient issues within the ministry.

But in his response to the committee order, Migereko insisted that the Attorney General must be consulted before the oil exploration contracts are taken to parliament.
"We have confidential clauses within the contracts and as government, we cannot just divulge confidentiality. We are not hiding anything from MPs but we think this is the right thing to do," Migereko was quoted as saying.

The government signed Production Sharing Contracts with Tullow Oil, an independent oil and gas exploration, development and production company, in July 2004 under its subsidiary Energy Africa in respect of Block 1 (Waraga), an exploration area that covers the northern part of Lake Albert and the surrounding onshore area.
Committee chairperson Emmanuel Dombo, however, demanded that the minister reveal the agreements signed with all the oil exploration companies in the country.

"Even if it requires a closed session for MPs to be able to look at these contracts, we are ready for this exercise. Our stand is clear, we must have these documents availed to the committee as soon as possible," Dombo said.
"This is a critical area where parliament as a stakeholder must be involved. We have a right to have access to these agreements and the issue of confidentiality should not arise. We want to know the government obligations in the deal," Dombo added.

After his failure to succumb to the committee pressure, Migereko said details of all the oil production agreements would be made available as soon as possible. The committee has also instructed Migereko to arrange an immediate committee visit to all the oil exploration areas in Bunyoro region in western Uganda.
On March 1, Heritage Oil company has said that final tests from Kingfisher, one of Uganda's oil wells in the western region located on the shores of Albert lake, indicate that a maximum of 13,893 barrels of oil per day, increasing the country' s potential to begin commercial production.

Kingfisher is the second well after Waraga 1 that has produced over 12,000 barrels of oil per day under test. There has been an argument since the oil discovery was made public last June on how to turn the hidden treasure into a blessing instead of a curse to the country.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also assured the public that the money made from the oil industry would be used back on the public and infrastructure of the country. Uganda is planning to begin petroleum production with a mini refinery as early as 2009, making its first step of shifting from a fuel importer to a self-reliant country, which would save the country millions of dollars on oil imports annually.

Source / Xinhua News Agency
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