Uganda to Drill First Oil Well in Kingfisher Field
13:36 GMT 24.01.2023 (Updated: 15:07 GMT 24.01.2023)
© Photo : Twitter / @GovUgandaThe announcement marks the start of drilling of the close to 400 wells required to develop and produce the oil resource.
© Photo : Twitter / @GovUganda
Uganda is one of several states in the eastern part of Africa seeking to develop and exploit its newly found hydrocarbons. The country discovered commercial reserves of oil almost two decades ago, however, their development and production have been repeatedly delayed due to the lack of necessary infrastructure, as well as COVID-19.
Uganda is due to commence drilling of the first oil well in the Kingfisher oil field in the western part of the country, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) stated on Tuesday.
"Today we mark another milestone and move a step closer to first oil with the launch of the drilling of development and production wells for the Kingfisher oil fields," the agency said on Twitter.
During the ceremony, which is expected to be attended by senior officials including President Yoweri Museveni, the first of four planned oil drilling rigs will be launched, marking the start of drilling of the first well.
The second field, Tilenga, is located north of Lake Albert and is operated by France's TotalEnergies. These two firms and the state-run Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) co-own all of the country's existing oilfields.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the rig which is about to start operating will drill a total of 31 wells with the deepest at 7.4km in the Kingfisher oil field, while three other rigs are expected to be deployed later in Tilenga. In general, they will drill 426 production wells.
The PAU stated that the launch of drilling is a key milestone as the country hopes that Tilenga and Kingfisher will deliver their first commercial output by 2025.
Uganda has approximately 6.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, of which 1.4 billion barrels are estimated to be economically recoverable. The Kingfisher oil field was discovered in 2006. It is expected to be one of the first major ongoing oil projects to be developed in the country.
One of the reasons that the start of oil production in the East African region has been so delayed is the lack of infrastructure, in particular, an oil pipeline.
Uganda and Tanzania are now completing preparations for the construction of a massive 1,440 km oil pipeline called the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP). The pipeline will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to Tanzania’s Tanga Indian Ocean port where the oil will be sold to world markets.
However, European Union officials have condemned the project, citing environmental, climate, and "human rights" concerns. In September, the body adopted a resolution urging TotalEnergies, which is the largest stakeholder in the project, to delay development of the pipeline for one year to explore the feasibility of an alternative route or renewable energy projects.
Speaking at the opening of the Uganda International Gas and Oil Summit in Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni criticized the resolution, slamming EU politicians and environmental groups seeking to meddle in Uganda and Tanzania’s affairs as "insufferable," "shallow," and "egocentric." He highlighted that the oil belongs to the East African nations and "the West should calm down because this is the wrong battleground for them."