The Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has revealed that it has managed to extract 45,000 barrels of crude oil from the Albertine Graben.
The extraction is currently not for commercial purposes but aimed at testing the elements of crude Uganda has.
The revelation was made by Peter Muliisa, the chief legal and corporate affairs of UNOC.
Muliisa explained that, “We needed to understand the components of crude that we have, whether it’s waxy or its sulfur content. If the sulfur content of crude is high, then it’s not commercial. So, the way you do the testing is to extract something crude where with only extracted 45,000 barrels of crude oil from the Albertine graben since exploration stated in Uganda.”
He said that he had been prompted to make these comments to clear the air about allegations that the Ugandan government is secretly extracting oil for commercial purposes. He said this is not true.
Muliisa said that the 45,000 barrels of crude all sit in the crude oil containers in the Albertine graben.
‘’All the barrels being extracted sit in the containers at the Albertine graben where each barrel can be accounted for, ” he said.
UNOC handles the Ugandan government’s commercial interests in the petroleum sector.
Muliisa’s comments come at a time when at least three oil wells have been submerged by the rising water from Lake Albert caused by the torrential rains.
The calamity led Stephen Mukitale, the chairman of the Bunyoro parliamentary forum, to ask whether the oil wells are sealed and safe.
‘’The water levels of L.Albert have risen to an extent that the oil wells are submerged. Our worry is if they were sealed with the best technology that won’t be tempered with by the water and lead to an oil spillage that will harm to the aquatic life.’’
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development sought to reassure residents that there is no such danger.
Kasande said that, ‘’There is no need to question the technology used in sealing the oil since the wells where sealed with technology compatible with international levels. That is proved from other oil wells where we have not experienced any oil spillage so the host communities don’t need to panic.’’
The officials further revealed that the government through the Petroleum Authority Uganda plan to assess the condition of onshore oil wells as soon as the rainy season comes to an end.
The oil wells that have been submerged are Kasemene 2B and Wayilindi in Buliisa district and Ngassa 2B in Hoima district.
Civil Society Organisations have continued to question whether the government includes the impact of floods and rains in its Environmental Social Impact Assessment reports before granting permission to oil companies. They also wonder if government has a response plan in case of an oil spillage.
One of these leaders Sandra Atusinguza charged, ‘’Floods have not been categorized and prioritized in the oil and gas sector which is new in the making so is government ready to handle such disasters in the future oil projects?”
Atusinguza is the field coordinator for African Institute for Energy Governance.