A little-known discovery of new oil fields in the Ugandan rift-valley region of Africa has brought clean water, health clinics, paved roads and schools to thousands of poor villagers in the Hoima district.
And Ugandan universities are rushing to train more mining engineers...
Life is being transformed in one of the poorest regions of Africa in Uganda's Hoima district, right next to Lake Albert, ever since the oil-bearing sands deep below were first discovered in in 2006 by Ireland-based Tullow Oil company. The find is not being all that widely published in the Western world, so outside Uganda, it's relatively unknown that they are already pumping about 27,000 barrels of oil a day, and plan to go to fulltime production by 2011. The rush now is on to complete the planned 350-km pipeline from Kenya's Mombasa harbour to Kampala and extend it to Lake Albert. And Mombasa is also expanding its oil-export terminal.see
Lives are transformed:
The very first people to benefit from this new wealth derived from black gold, are the Boima region's villagers -- who have struggled all their lives just to survive each day. They say their lives are now being transformed practically overnight by the oil find, with Tullow OIl company spending a lot of money on improving their infrastructure, with new schools, fresh-water boreholes, new health clinics, lots of new nurses -- and even brand-new schools and uniforms.
Fisherman Charles Ojega says boreholes are a new experience for villagers in the Kyangwari sub-county, which had never had a clean water source before in their lives. After fishing all day on Lake Albert, he can now prepare his meal from fresh water from a borehole just five metres from his grass-thatched hut in Songa village in the Hoima district. “Our lives have been transformed. I can now spend more time fishing without worrying about where to find clean water. It is a new world for us,” Ojega says.
Songa, with a population of 10,000 people, is a fishing community in Buhuka parish right next to Lake Albert."This is the first ever borehole in our area - ever. It was drilled in November last year,” Ojega says.
They used to just fetch water from the lake. And until last year, there were no paved roads in Buhuka - with vehicles a rare sight. "We were poor. None of us could afford a car,” says William Kato, the LCI chairman for Songa. Indeed: until last year, none of the families in the parish lived on more than 1,000 Ugandan shillings ($0.50) a day, says Kato. llliteracy was high due to lack of schools. The only primary school in Buhuka had one teacher and stopped at Primary Four.
Today, this misery has become history for Kyangwari residents, thanks to the ongoing oil exploration in the region, the local New Vision newspaper writes.There are two oil companies exploring oil resources in this south-western part of Uganda — Heritage and Tullow Oil companies -- and both are creating new infrastructure and development projects in the area.
AFRICOM presence helps fight Lord's Resistance Army (see video above):
The US military is also wading in, with AFRICOM engaged in a massive livestock innoculation programme since 2008, building new schools and also helping the Ugandan military in its ongoing battle with a particularly vicious group of insurgent-rebels called the Lord's Resistance Army. Presently, they are also engaged in trying to retrieve human remains and the wreckage from the crashed Russian cargo plane from the bottom of Lake Victoria. see The huge Russian Soviet-era Ilyushin-76 cargo plane was taking supplies to the African peacekeepers in Somalia when it burst into flames within minutes of takeoff from Uganda's Entebbe airport and landed in 25 metres of water, embedded beneath 10m of mud. see and also see
Tullow is a leading independent oil & gas, exploration and production group, quoted on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges (TLW) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The Group has interests in over 85 exploration and production licences across 22 countries and focuses on four core areas: Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America. They confirm that they are investing heavily in upgrading the infrastructure of the new Ugandan oil-fields.
In an area where deadly-ill patients had to be carried on sacks to the nearest clinic 20km away, there are now new clinics and medical centres in every parish. “Today, women in Kyehoro can give birth from the Tullow maternity centre at no cost,” George Tinkamanyire, the district chairman.And already he can see the difference: health conditions in the district have improved.
Habib Kagumi, chairman of Tamoil Ltd., the company contracted to carry out extension work on Kenya's Mombasa-harbour’s 351-kilometer Eldoret oil pipeline, says that once their pipeline has been extended to Kampala in Uganda, there are plans to extend it further to the Albertine Rift -- so it can be used to transport oil for export when Uganda reaches full-scale production from 2011. The work starts in April 2009 and last for 15 months.
Kagimu said the pipeline would be extended from Kampala to landlocked Rwanda and Burundi. Since 2006, Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil have been carrying out extensive exploration activities on the Ugandan side of the Albertine Rift. see
Tullow Oil Company officials say that the Albertine rift "has enough reserves to justify an export-oriented project." They also are in talks with the (still rather nominal) Congolese government to also obtain more exploration rights on the Congolese side of Lake Albert.It already has an 100% operated interest in Block 2 in the Lake Albert Rift Basin and is the largest acreage holder in that area.
The company says that four oil discoveries were made in the Kaiso-Tonya region of the block during 2006 alone - proving up a 'working hydrocarbon system in the basin with good quality oil from highly productive reservoirs'. They said they had located 'substantial upside potential' in the block in the Kaiso-Tonya area, the Butiaba area to the north and beneath Lake Albert, where the larger prospects are located.
Because of easy access to the lake shore, they pinpoint this region as the likely hub for any future development, as it is a logical oil export route to the coast (i.e. via Kenya/Mombasa harbour). In 2007, Tullow launched a programme of 2D and 3D seismic scanning and drilling across the basin to establish the extent of the oil reserves.
The African Rift Valley is one the geologic wonders of the world, a place where the earth’s tectonic forces are creating new plates by splitting apart old ones. It's a fracture in the earth’s surface that widens over time and geologists say eventually, the plates wlll split apart, with the Ethiopia-Kenya-Uganda-Tanzania plate being given a new name: the Nubian Plate -- which makes up most of Africa.The smaller section splitting away from Africa is the Somalian Plate - steadily moving away from each other, and also from the Arabian plate to the north.
The point where these three plates meet in the Afar region of Ethiopia forms what is called a triple-junction. This rifting also extends into Kenya, Tanzania and the Great Lakes region of Africa – and that’s where the newly-discovered oil reserves are located.