Global Witness Hails Government On Oil Transparency


In short
An Oil and Gas activist group has lauded the decision by government to publish the companies shortlisted to bid for its latest round of oil contracts.

Global Witness in a statement says the decision is an important step forward for transparency in the country.
However, the organisation highlighted the need to carefully scrutinise companies' environmental and social records, especially given the sensitive nature of the regions in which the contracts are being awarded.

The country is opening up six new oil blocks in protected areas, including the Ngaji block on Lake Edward which borders Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world Heritage site in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This makes choosing the right companies all the more important.
George Boden, campaigner at Global Witness says publishing the list of bidders is a welcome first step toward securing the right deal and maintaining the trust of the public - but it's just one step.
He says the organization has grave concerns about drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas like Lake Edward, which has seen a global campaign to protect Virunga National Park from such activity.
Boden says the decision to allow drilling on the Ugandan side of Lake Edward seriously undermines these efforts to protect virunga National Park.

He says government must at a minimum publish information on the criteria for selecting companies - including what their environmental and social track record looks like.
Global Witness which has been involved in advocacy aimed  exposing  the corrupt in the exploitation of natural resources also wants government to publish the true owners of these companies and the contracts they sign so that the public can see what kind of deals the Government has negotiated and who will benefit from them.

Boden says the bid round is due to commence in nine days but the Government has not yet published its new template contract, finalised regulations for the sector or established the Petroleum Authority which is supposed to oversee the bidding processes.

The Government of Uganda  has shortlisted all but three of the original list of companies which had expressed an interest in bidding.
The companies included  Atlas Petroleum from Nigeria, which is the sister company of Oranto Petroleum which is still on the list.
Also on the list PTTEP the Thai state owned Oil Company and Dragon oil from the United Arab Emirates. Dragon is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is unclear why the last two, which both have international operations, have been dropped from the list.
Global Witness urges government to clearly spell out the selection criteria for the companies they have chosen, their environmental and social track record and who ultimately owns them so that Ugandans can have faith in the management of the oil sector.

Dr. Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, said: "16 of the 17 firms that submitted the Applications met the evaluation criteria as spelt out in the Request for Qualification document and will therefore proceed to the Request for Proposal stage of this licensing round. 

The firms were evaluated based on their technical competence, financial capabilities, legal qualifications as well as National Content and Health Safety and Environment track record."  
The 16 successful firms are;
  1. African Exploration Venture (JV comprising of Rapid Africa Energy Pty Limited and Africa Energy SA Corp), South Africa
  2. African Global Resources (JV comprising of Telconet Capital Limited, RT-Global Resources LLC and JSC Tatneft),Russia
  3. Armour Energy Limited, Australia
  4. Brightoil Petroleum (Uganda) Limited, Hong Kong/China
  5. Glint Energy, LLC, USA
  6. MDC Oil and Gas Holding Company, LLC, United Arab Emirates
  7. Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Limited, Nigeria
  8. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited, India
  9. Oranto Petroleum International Limited, Nigeria
  10. Petoil (Uganda) Limited, Turkey
  11. Petrica Energy AS, Norway
  12. Rift Energy Uganda Limited, Canada
  13. SASOL Exploration and Production International Limited, South Africa
  14. Swala Energy (Uganda) Limited, Australia
  15. Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited, Ireland
  16. Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Nigeria
The Ministry will in due course issue the Request for Proposal and the Modal Production Sharing Agreement documents to the qualified firms to bid for blocks or a block of their interest after the mandatory acquisition of data in the blocks or a block through the physical Data Room at the Directorate of Petroleum in Entebbe.
The six biddable blocks comprise of the Ngassa (410 Km2) in Hoima District, Taitai & Karuka (565 Km2) in Buliisa District, Ngaji (895 Km2) in Rukungiri & Kanungu Districts, Mvule (344 Km2) in Moyo and Yumbe Districts together with Turaco (425 Km2) and Kanywantaba (344 Km2) in Ntoroko

The Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act 2013 provides for licensing of areas with the potential for petroleum production in the country to be undertaken through open, transparent and competitive bidding.