As people eagerly wait for the Final Investment Decision (FID) in Uganda’s oil industry, the present gaps on ground are scaring earlier efforts made by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and oil companies to prepare the Albertine region dwellers for the direct and induced opportunities in the industry.
This is according to a report that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Albertine Graben presented to the PAU, Total E&P Uganda, Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) officials during a stakeholders’ engagement held at HB Hotel on Friday last week.
While presenting a joint CSOs’ report, Ms Catherine Tuhaise, the in charge of Research and Trainings said until now, they had noted with concern the absence of physical addresses of oil companies and the PAU at Bunyoro’s regional headquarter – Hoima.
She said the absence of the address was affecting community consultations yet this is the time engagements are needed more.
Ms Tuhaise credited the companies and the petroleum authority for the initiative of translating into local languages some messages concerning oil and gas.
However, she said they had observed many imperfections in translating the message into local languages where distortion was evident.
The CSOs recommended the petroleum authority and oil companies to always select individuals or firms whose staffs are acquainted with the oil industry and able to translate words in contact other than mere language.
In response to the queries of the participants drawn from different spheres of life, Jane Mbabazi Byaruhanga, the Manager for Environment at the PAU said the authority was in the final stages of occupying the Hoima offices located at Kijungu in the former United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Hoima city.
According to her, this will ease people’s access to the Authority and make any consultations including registration on the National Supplier Database (NSD) especially for those not yet friendly with the online ways.
She urged the local people to prepare by improving the quantity and quality of goods as well as services to be supplied either directly or indirectly to the oil industry.
According to her, that will enable them compete favourably with other nationals benefiting from the National Content Policy.
CNOOC Uganda Limited closed its regional office in Hoima city at the end of 2019 when oil operations slowed down forcing oil companies to downsize their staff.
The move made the company’s physical accessibility very hard with the only options being to travel to its Buhuka field offices some 100 kilometres away or to the Kampala office some 200 kilometres from Hoima city.
Mr David Kagoro, CNOOC Uganda Limited Community Relations Manager said they were working out mechanisms of restoring their physical presence as soon as possible.
He, however, challenged community members especially the youths to always search for information about the oil and gas industry online in order to prepare for the opportunities in the oil industry.