UGANDA has commissioned the first of its four planned oil drilling rigs and starts drilling the first production well this Tuesday – a key milestone for the country, as Kampala races to meet its target of first crude oil output in 2025.
The discovery of commercial reserves of petroleum under Uganda’s Lake Albert was confirmed nearly two decades ago, but production has been repeatedly delayed due to lack of infrastructure.
Taking to the Twitter on Tuesday, the government-run Petroleum Authority of Uganda said: ‘Today we mark another milestone and move a step closer to first oil with the launch of the drilling of development and production wells for the Kingfisher oil fields.’
The PAU, which regulates the petroleum sector, said President Yoweri Museveni was due to officiate at the Spudding (drilling) campaign launch at a site in Kingfisher project area, one of the country’s two commercial oil development locations.
Kingfisher, located near the southern flank of Lake Albert in the country’s west, is operated by China’s CNOOC.
Uganda’s second project area,Tilenga, located north of Lake Albert astride River Nile, is operated by France’s TotalEnergies.
The two firms co-own all of Uganda’s existing oilfields alongside the state-run Uganda National Oil Company.
World’s longest oil pipeline
At peak production, Uganda plans to extract about 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The rig, launched Tuesday, will be used to drill a total of 31 wells on Kingfisher grid while three rigs are set to be deployed later in the Tilenga project area will drill a total of 426 production wells.
The crude oil will be exported through the electrically heated, 1400 kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda’s oilfields to neighbouring Tanzania’s Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga.
Once built, EACOP will be the longest oil pipeline in the world and its construction has been condemned by environmental groups.
Uganda’s crude reserves are estimated at 6.5 billion barrels, of which 1.4 billion barrels are recoverable.