By Felistus Masika
On 6th April 2022, Petroleum Authority of Uganda invited civil society organizations from Western Uganda in bid to share the importance of Uganda’s investments in the exploration of oil and gas in the Albertine landscape.
The Civil Society Organizations in Kasese also got an opportunity to take part in the engagements and a total of six organization including CECIC , it should however be noted that last year in June , the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development put five blocks in the second licensing round and these included Avivi, Omuka, Kasuruban, Turaco and Ngaji in the Albertine graben, all described as highly prospective.
Turaco(Block 4) in the Bundibugyo-Ntoroko at 635 sq km, underwent initial explorations and basing on seismic, ground gravity and magnetic data, Heritage Oil commenced drilling and some hydrocarbons were encountered.
Ngaji (Block 5) which covers 1,230 sq km is located in Kasese-Mitooma districts at the shores of Lake Edward which is a bit ”controversial” because it is located in a highly protected conservation area, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is against this background that the Petroleum Authority of Uganda decided to engage the CSO in Kasese district to support the government’s move to give away oil blocks (Ngaji ) that are located in eco-sensitive areas for oil exploration.
However this was challenged by ” Edwin Mumbere the coordinator of Center for Citizens Conserving Environment and management (CECIC) who clearly stated that EACOP, Tilenga and Kingfisher will produce 102 million metric tons of carbon dioxide which is very harmful to the environment and given the fact that almost the natural resources that could capture the carbondoxidie produced the EACOP have been cut down for fuel while much of them have been given away to the investors”
This area is also near the Virunga conservation area in the DR Congo, and is one of the reasons civil society is opposed to oil and gas activities there. Ugandans have to protect the ecosystem from the effects of the activities, we have also worked on several projects in the EACOP affected districts and we have realized that its women that are affected most by such development and no other place should face such human rights violations in the name of investing. , says Mbambu Barbrah
And allowing oil activities in Ngaji will not only affect the Ecosystem here but it will also cause disturbance in the virunga conservation area which is just 100 km away in the future . This could lead to more cross border conflicts which have already been evident between Ugandan and DRC fishermen.
The CSO representatives in Kasese were not in agreement with a proposed plan by the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to seek investors who can explore oil from the Nagji because of the sensitivity it has in the ecosystems and in the tourism sector.