Uganda's new energy minister 'will make sure we beat the deadline to first oil'

24 June 2021

Source: Upstream

Ruth Nankabirwa, Uganda's new energy minister, wants to speed up the timeline to first oil from TotalEnergies' Tilenga and CNOOC International's Kingfisher oil fields.

Just a day after President Yoweri Museveni handed her the oil and gas portfolio, Nankabirwa outlined what she wants to achieve during her tenure, and emphasised that the country's multi-billion dollar upstream schemes should not be delayed, and ideally should be accelerated.

Speaking at the Seventh Annual Uganda Oil and Gas Convention on 23 June, organised by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Nankabirwa said: "I will put my energy to make sure we move (forward) and beat the deadlines. We have to deliver.

He stressed that one of his key objectives will be to ensure that social issues related to land acquisition and population displacement do not delay the project schedule that currently envisages first oil flow in early 2025.

Some of the projects involve disrupting the population, but I am a good mobiliser. I will sit down with the people to make sure we don't delay (because) the information has not been properly presented to the people, and to tell them the social benefits (of the projects) for them and their country," he said. .

Nankabirwa also raised the possibility that, if necessary, changes to the legislation underpinning the oil projects could be assessed.

"I know (projects don't happen) without implementing regulations, policies and laws. And that's going to be my job. Whether we need amendments to any legislation that's been done, I'll be able to do that."

Also speaking at the convention was Uganda's new attorney general, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, who said: "It is extremely important that we manage the affairs of the oil and gas sector in a responsible and sustainable manner".

Kiwanuka added that it is incumbent on project participants to "put all our boots on the ground, understand the industry and develop it in a sustainable manner".

The attorney general also "cautioned" people to "measure" the comments they make on social media when it comes to the "sensitive" oil and gas sector.

"I appeal to the public, if you have any questions, please ask (government authorities). Let's sing from the same hymn book and make sure that we are sending the right message to everybody."

Kiwanuka's comments come as many anti-fossil fuel campaign groups and individuals have called on social media for the Tilenga-Kingfisher projects, and the associated refinery and pipeline through Tanzania, to be suspended due to climate, environmental and social concerns.

Before being appointed attorney general on 8 June, Kiwanuku was deputy attorney general.

He also sits on the board of the Uganda Petroleum Authority, the oil and gas regulator.