Sharing knowledge with Uganda

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) is assisting Uganda in managing its newly discovered oil and gas resources to benefit the population.

The involvement started in 2009, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ programme ”Oil for development”. The Petrad foundation has previously carried out an expertise building programme in the country.

”The NPD’s role is to build expertise, and to support the authorities in handling the petroleum industry in a professional manner,” says Turid Øygard, the NPD’s project coordinator for Uganda.

She talks daily with her contacts in Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mines daily. A staff of approximately 50 people works in the Ministry’s petroleum office - Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) – in Entebbe, where they are working on developing government petroleum management.

Øygard describes Uganda as a country facing major challenges. The population is approximately 33 million, and the average number of children per family is 5.7. This results in significant pressure on schools and resources in general. The country is primarily an agricultural society, with many banana, coffee, tea and cotton plantations, but almost no industry. The electricity production in Uganda is less than one per cent of the Norwegian, and the most important energy source is wood.

But Uganda also has substantial resources. Since the authorities in the country opened for oil exploration, oil and some gas have been discovered in 32 of the 34 wells recently drilled. According to Øygard, this is an extremely high discovery rate, and has led to a large influx of oil companies from all over the world.

The most important discoveries have been made in Albertine Graben in the Great Rift Valley, where the large Lake Albert is located. In addition, discoveries have been made near Lake Edward further south in the valley. The operatorship of the three blocks in the area will likely be divided between Irish Tullow, French Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. So far, nothing has been developed, and no production has started. Start-up could presumably take place in 2012.

The Nile runs through the area, and some of the discoveries have also been made in national parks. The oil recovered so far has a high wax content, and requires energy-demanding processing before it can be utilised.


PEPD’s senior geologist Dozith Abeinomugisha (to the right) in an oil-rich area near Lake Edward in the Great Rift

Senior geologist of the PEPD, Dozith Abeinomugisha (to the right), in an oil-rich area near Lake Edward in the Great Rift Valley. (Photo: Turid Øygard)


Comprehensive work
On assignment from Ugandan authorities and with assistance from a handful of employees in the NPD, Turid Øygard is working on putting a framework in place for the oil activities. This work involves everything from preparing petroleum regulations and guidelines for licence awards, to making data systems that can manage the information relating to discoveries and fields, and developing methods to handle development plans.

In addition to its own resources, the NPD has obtained assistance from external contributors. They include, among others, the Rogaland Training and Education Centre (RKK), which assists in the training of skilled Ugandan workers within drilling and wells, and the Institute for Research, Economics and Business Administration (SNF) in Bergen, which is studying how to create local workplaces. In addition, the NPD has entered into an agreement with an independent consultant who will assist PEPD in preparing a stratigraphic map of the Albertine Graben.

“The plans for the near future involve building expertise and developing new institutions,” says Turid Øygard. Specifically, this means putting into place a national oil company, a regulatory authority and a policy unit within the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

The programme also involves considerable efforts within environment and revenue management, with contributions from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Finance.

Øygard believes that Uganda has the competency to succeed in managing its resources in an equitable manner.

”The country has a capable, free press. In addition, there are qualified professionals of integrity who work hard for their country,” she says.