Uganda urged to refine its own oil

Oct 25, 2010 12:00 AM

With massive discoveries of oil in Ugandan territory, officials are facing pressure from oil companies to export crude oil to Mombasa, Kenya, for refining. But nationalists in the government say refining should be done at home.

Now, a study by a Swiss engineering firm, confirms that a refinery inside Uganda would create many spin-offs for the domestic economy in the form of jobs and taxes. The Norwegian funded study shows that Uganda would be saving more than a bn dollars annually if it were to build its own oil refinery.

There are already willing partners to build the plant. China and Libya have shown interest and Iran has offered to build the plant and more.

As of 2009, more than two and a half bn barrels of oil were found in three of nine exploration blocks. Local groups have begun demanding to see Production Share Agreements (PSA), which outline the percentage of oil money the government will receive. Greenwatch (a public-interest environmental law NGO) has filed suit to see the PSAs to assess oil project impacts on the environment and protect citizens' rights to a clean and healthy environment. This case is scheduled to be heard shortly.

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