PAU dispels fears over environmental destruction during oil activities

Oil well in Buliisa District. (File photo)

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has allayed fears of environmental destruction as oil activities continue being carried out in the Albertine Grabben.

This follows some worries from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and sections of the media being awash with environmental and social concerns relating to planned developments in the petroleum industry.

CSOs are suggesting that by the time Uganda starts production, her oil and gas resources will have no value since the world is moving away from oil and gas to renewable energy.

Mr Joseph Kobusheshe, the Director Environment, Health, Safety and Security in the PAU, says the Authority is closely working with the licensed oil companies and other government partners to ensure protection of the environment, human health and safety during oil and gas activities in Uganda’s oil-rich region.

He adds that government ensures that oil companies including TotalEnergies and CNOOC operating the Tilenga and Kingfisher projects in Buliisa and Kikuube districts respectively and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project adopt sound environmental technologies and minimise the footprint of petroleum operations.

The director cites the Tilenga project facilities in Murchison (Kabaleega) Falls National Park as having been sited and designed in a manner that will have negligible impact to tourism and wildlife.

Mr Kobusheshe assures environmentalists that oil production facilities will be operated remotely to ensure minimal human presence in the park during the production phase.

“The planned Tilenga, Kingfisher and EACOP projects will be developed by applying state-of-the-art energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies that will include multiple drilling of up to 15 wells from a single well pad and sharing of facilities in order to minimise the environmental footprint,” he says.

“Crude oil pipelines will be buried and equipped with leak detectors and valves to automatically shut down the pipeline in case of damage or abnormalities. The water that comes out with oil during production will be injected back into the oil wells which will greatly reduce the amount of fresh water abstraction by over 90% and also avoid the huge volumes of waste water requiring treatment and discharge into the environment. No flaring or venting of oil and gas will be permitted during normal operations. The projects fall within the category of “low emission.”

Mr Kobusheshe asserts that government will follow a robust policy, legal, institutional, monitoring and compliance enforcement framework put in place to ensure that oil and gas activities mutually co-exist with the environment and social wellbeing of communities in the areas where oil and gas activities are being undertaken and the entire country.

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