Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has officially unveiled five oil blocks that are available for licensing.
Energy and Mineral Development Minister Irene Muloni unveiled what she termed as “five brides” that are available in Uganda for taking, to investors gathered at the East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition in Mombasa, Kenya.
“The blocks we’re targeting are still in the Albertine Graben,” she told investors on Wednesday.
The first one is Azizi block covering an area of 1026 Square Kilometers, the second is Omuka, covering 750 Square Kilometer, the third is Kasulubani covering 1,285 Square Kilometers, then Turaco, a block covering 637 Square Kilometers and the fifth is Ngaji, a block covering 1230 Square Kilometers.
This officially opens the blocks to the investors to bid for them. The announcement is to whet their appetite and get them to prepare to compete for them.
Muloni had told journalists in Kampala earlier that seven blocks would be on offer. It is, however, unclear why only five blocks had been opened up.
However, the inclusion of the Ngaji block on the list of the available blocks for exploration may not auger well with environmentalists and campaigners who say it is ecologically sensitive and that the government must tread carefully when offering it out to investors.
In a letter issued over the weekend, the activists under Coalition of Kasese Women and Youth Clean Energy Clubs asked the government to halt licensing in the area, specifically the Ngaji block for environmental reasons.
This is the second time that Uganda is offering oil exploration deals under open bidding. The last round of bidding in 2016 saw Armour Energy from Australia and Oranto Petroleum from Nigeria emerge as the best bidders. The government then signed deals with the companies worth more than 7 billion Shillings.
Wednesday’s announcement didn’t go into the nitty-gritty of the requirements for bidders who may want these blocks. It is expected that the government will make formal calls for bidders with specifications of what they need to have.
Uganda has so far confirmed 6.4 billion barrels of oil with between 1.4 to 1.7 billion barrels recoverable. There is hope that Uganda will discover more hydrocarbons in the new blocks when they have been explored.