Nigerian, Canadian and Australian Oil Companies bid for Uganda Oil Top story

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In short
Nigeria, Australia, and Canadian oils firms take interest in Ugandas oil sector as government makes companies that have submitted bids for the Albertine Graben oil blocks.

Seven international oil firms have submitted bids for the next round of licensing of oil blocks in the Albertine Graben.
A statement from the Energy and Mineral Development Ministry says the seven companies were able to submit the bids by the 26th February deadline.
The firms include Armour Energy Limited of Australia, WalterSmith Petroman Oil Limited of Nigeria, Oranto Petroleum International Ltd of Nigeria, and Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Ltd of Nigeria.
Others are Rift Energy Corporation of Canada, Glint Energy LLC of USA and Swala Energy Ltd of Australia.
These according to the Ministry of Energy statement are part of the 16 potential bidders that were issued with the bidding documents on 1st October 2015

The six blocks on offer 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 District.


Dr. Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development (MEMD), said that the attraction of seven bidders is significant taking into consideration the current low Global Oil and Gas prices.
 He explained that the good success of the bidding process is largely attributed to geological success within the Albertine Graben and the fact that majority of the blocks on offer have proven oil and gas potential.

Kabagambe-Kaliisa says the evaluation of the bids will be primarily based on the proposed work program, technical and financial capability, National Content, Health Safety and Environment, Proposed Royalty and Signature Bonus. 
He says the Government will conclude the licensing round by negotiating with successful bidders, sign Production Sharing Agreements and award Exploration licenses by the end of June 2016.

The bidding document comprised of the Request for Proposal, Model Production Sharing Agreement 2015 (MPSA), Model Confidentiality Agreement for sale of data, Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) (Data Sale) Regulations 2014 and Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) (Data Sale) (Amendment), Regulations 2015. 

Uganda's first licensing round is guided by the National Oil and Gas Policy for Uganda (2008) and the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act 2013.
Meanwhile Global Witness, an International NGO pushing for transparency in the Oil and Gas Sector has commended the government for publishing the list of the seven bidders for its first round of oil licences.
It however expressed concerns about environmental risks posed by oil exploration to unique habitats including the Virunga World Heritage site, and the suitability of some of the oil companies under consideration.
 
George Boden of Global Witness noted that Oil contracts can last for 30 years or more, and oil exploration can do irreversible damage to both people and environment.  
He says choosing the right company is vital, especially with operations taking place in such sensitive areas.
Boden says the government should carry out careful checks into the background of each company and publish the details of all of their real owners to ensure that they are suitable for the job and that there is no conflict of interest.
 
All of the oil blocks in the current licencing round overlap with environmentally protected areas, but one, the Ngaji block, is of particular concern.
The Ngaji block area covers half of Lake Edward and large part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and forms part of the same ecosystem as Virunga - Africa's oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Global Witness and other environment groups have been running campaigns to protect this area; home to some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, from oil extraction.