Oranto resumes Ngasa oil exploration with short licence deadline

An oil rig on water used by Oranto Petroleum to illustrate its forthcoming oil exploration activities at Ngasa oil block on Lake Albert.

Oranto Petroleum Uganda Ltd has resumed its activities to explore the commercial viability of oil reserves established at Ngasa oil block in Kikuube and Hoima Districts.

Its activities were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as it moved to the second phase after seismic survey, according to Mr Abdul Byakagaba Bazaara, the company’s General Manager. They had been given a four-year-exploration licence in 2017.

He was speaking at a stakeholder engagement ‘Oranto Petroleum’ organised in partnership with Kitara Development Initiative (KITADI) in in Hoima city.

Mr Byakagaba noted that the two year licence extension requires the company to work tooth and nail to meet a critical condition of drilling at least one exploration well before the end of 2023.

Oranto has decided to prioritise starting with the only well they have spotted onshore Lake Albert to be on a safe side since wells offshore the lake may be too complicated to drill without ample preparation time, he explained.

Mr Byakagaba added that due to the sensitivity of the block whose four spotted drilling points are inside Lake Albert waters, they are looking around the best technology and practices to ensure safety of life in water, air and on land.

Asked whether the renewed Ngasa oil exploration will not disrupt fishing, he said logical inconveniences may not be avoided especially during movement of exploration equipment in certain areas but fishing shall continue as usual.

“Fishermen should not be worried of their livelihoods because all that is taken into consideration as we move do our work,” said Mr Byakagaba.

On local content, he said it will present numerous opportunities and that is why they have commenced their works by engaging different stakeholders.

Audio: Byakagaba on opportunities (English)
Mr Abdul Byakagaba Bazaara, the Managing Director Oranto Petroleum Uganda Ltd, speaks at an engagement held at HB Hotel in Hoima City.

Mr Stephen Mwijakubi Murungi, the National Content and Social Lead at Oranto Petroleum Uganda Ltd, explained that the stage of exploration will determine the quantity and quality of oil in their field of exploration and inform the next step.

“If we get viable oil reserves, the government pays back all we have invested in. If we don’t find oil there; it just says ‘you are unlucky’ and we pack ours to move to other areas,” he said.

However, he expressed optimism that Ngasa oil block is viable basing on the seismic study results.

Ngasa which is Oil Block 2 lies between Block 3 north of the Albertine valley being developed by TotalEnergies EP Uganda and Block 1 southwards which is being developed by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

At the same engagement, the Hoima City Mayor, Mr Brian Kaboyo, welcomed the Ngasa oil exploration resumption saying it will help to generate direct and indirect opportunities to the people of Hoima.

Mr Sam Mugisa, the Social Affairs Coordinator at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) speaks at a stakeholders’ engagement at HB Hotel in Hoima Oil City.

Mr John Vaitah Isingoma, the KITADI Executive Director, noted the need to heighten community engagements basing on his opinion that the oil industry developments are moving faster than efforts being made by the local people to tap into it.

Audio: Isingoma on heightening engagement (English)

Mr Sam Mugisa, the Social Affairs Coordinator at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), urged people that missed opportunities in the exploration phase of Tilenga and Kingfisher due to lack of preparedness, to take the opportunity of Oranto to build their capacity and also serve during its development and production phases.

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