Energy Minister Irene Muloni yesterday flagged off the second licensing round for five oil blocks in the Albertine Graben for further exploration.
The new round, officials said, is expected to increase the current oil stock, which stands at 6.5b barrels.
The blocks include Avivi measuring about 1,268km2 in Arua: Omuka (750km2 in Nebbi): Kasuruban (1,285km2 between Buliisa and Packwach): Turaco (635km2 in Ntoroko District) and Ngaji measuring about 230km2 along the borders of Bushenyi, Rubirizi and Ntungamo.
The announcement was made during the East African Petroleum Conference in Mombasa, Kenya, where government showcased the blocks.
Ms Muloni said that some of the blocks such as Ngaji are located in ecologically sensitive areas but given government’s experience – working in the Murchison Falls National Park – detailed environmental and impact assessments will have to be undertaken.
Ms Muloni also revealed that the Energy Ministry will, in the coming weeks, issue a notice for Request for Qualification (RfQ) for expression of interest and subsequently receive and evaluate bid applications – a process that will take about six months.
Bidding for the oil blocks will take another five months, to be followed by negotiation with the successful bidders, and subsequently issuance of exploration licence in or by December 2020.
The last licencing round in 2015, since the new petroleum regulatory regime came into force in 2013, attracted about 17 prospective oil companies and was concluded in 2016 with only Australia’s Armour Energy Limited and Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum reaching the final stage; the two were issued exploration licences in 2017.
The two companies are still at the exploration stage, and it remains unknown if they have since made any significant oil finds.
The two companies are among the five oil companies, alongside France’s Total E&P, Anglo-Irish Tullow Oil, and China’s Cnooc, which are licensed in the upstream. Tullow sold its stake to both CNOOC and Total E&P, and finalisation of the transaction is ongoing.