Uganda on Tuesday launched its first oil drilling programme at the Kingfisher field on the shores of Lake Albert, a key milestone as the country races to meet its target of first oil output in 2025.
The Kingfisher field is part of a $10bn scheme to develop Uganda’s oil reserves under Lake Albert in the west of the country and build a vast pipeline to ship the crude to international markets via an Indian Ocean port in Tanzania.
“president Yoweri Museveni has officially commissioned the start of drilling campaign on the Kingfisher oilfield,” the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) said on Twitter, describing the development as a “milestone”.
The president has officially commissioned the start of drilling campaign on the Kingfisher oil field that is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day at peak once production commences in 2025. #KingfisherDrillingLaunch @UNinUganda @CNOOCUgandaLtd @TotalEnergiesUG pic.twitter.com/2NScAuSKbs— PAU_Uganda (@PAU_Uganda) January 24, 2023
The East African nation discovered commercial reserves of petroleum nearly two decades ago in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, but lack of infrastructure like a pipeline has repeatedly delayed production.
The Kingfisher field, operated by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, PAU said.
“We are excited as a country and Africa,” energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa told the AFP news agency.
PAU, which regulates the petroleum sector, said President Yoweri Museveni launched the programme at a site in the Kingfisher project area, one of the country’s two commercial oil development areas.
The country’s second project area, Tilenga, located north of Lake Albert astride River Nile, is operated by France’s TotalEnergies.
CNOOC and TotalEnergies co-own all of the existing oilfields alongside the state-run National Oil Company (UNOC).
At peak, Uganda plans to produce about 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The country’s crude reserves are estimated at 6.5 billion barrels, of which 1.4 billion barrels are recoverable.
The East African country plans to export the oil and refine and support local petro-chemical based industrial projects.