By Jeff Mbanga
At least three oil blocks will be part of Uganda’s third licensing round, which is scheduled to be announced in May. The ministry of Energy says it will announce the third licensing round during the East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition that will take place in Kampala, in May this year.
The three blocks – Ngaji, Avivi, and Omuka – are expected to bounce back in the third licensing round after none of the interested companies took them up during the second licensing round nearly three years ago.
There has not been any public announcement of the oil blocks that will be on offer in the third licensing round, but we can reveal that the three will be on offer.
Of the known three, the Ngaji still strikes a raw nerve among environmentalists, who say that its location in the pristine Virunga area is a threat to the ecosystem there.
Investors who show interest in the Ngaji might have to consider the environment backlash that this block has attracted over the years.
The Avivi is a block in the West Nile region of Uganda, which was once operated by Neptume Petroleum. Neptume failed to find commercial quantities of oil.
No substantial work has been undertaken at the Omuka oil block.
Uganda’s oil industry boasts of high-profile companies such as TotalEnergies and CNOOC, which should attract other players in the market.
PetroAfrik Energy Resources East Africa Limited and Total E &P, Activites Petroliniers were shortlisted for the second licensing round but chose to opt out of pursuing the other blocks. The availability of new blocks could change this perspective, however.
Uganda says less than half of the prospective Lake Albertine basin has been explored for oil. The country is confident there are more resources out there to add to the 6.5 billion barrels that have been discovered so far.
(Reporting by Jeff Mbanga. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)