NOVEMBER 10, 2009: Amuru Officials Turn the Heat on Oil Companies

Amuru Officials Turn the Heat On Oil Companies


By Cissy Makumbi

Suspicion and mistrust is swiftly replacing the celebrations and high expectations, which ensued early this year after oil was reportedly discovered in Amuru District.

Local leaders, however, are turning the heat on the two oil companies - Tullow Oil (Ireland/UK) and Heritage Oil and Gas Limited (Canada) now handling exploration works over allegations of working in secrecy with the central government to 'cheat them' nearly a year since major installations commenced.

The two companies late last year announced the discovery of commercial quantity oil fields in the area. They estimated Amuru oilfields at 400 million barrels of "world class" crude, and the development of the oilfields commenced early this year.

Amuru Sub-county chairman Gilbert Olanya is angry that residents have not been involved in the (exploration) plan. "There is concern from the community, that maybe production is ongoing without their knowledge and the technical persons are not even coming out clearly to tell us what's happening," Mr Olanya said at a meeting with Heritage officials on Saturday.

Purongo Sub-county LC5 councillor, where the oil wells are situated, Patrick Oryema also warned the company, saying the community is spreading unfounded information about the exploration because they are not in the know. But Mr Abudhalah Byakagaba, an official with Heritage Oil, said production has not yet kicked off and asked the locals to acquire the necessary skills before everything starts.

"We expect the production to start in either 2011 or 2015. We urge the community to make use of the petroleum institute at Kigumba in Masindi to acquire skills so that as the production kicks off you are competitive for jobs," Mr Byakagaba said. He said they expect four billion barrels in the two wells of Buffalo and Giraffe.

A representative from the Ministry of Energy, Mr Dozith Abeinomugisha, said they are still analysing the proposed plan of sharing benefits between the government, community and the exploration companies.

In January this year, Heritage struck one of the largest oilfields in Amuru...

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