A Step Forward for the Nation’s Economy but also a Showcase of China’s Expanding Economic Connections in Africa
Analysis by Manuel Chen-Cruz
Uganda has taken a major step forward in its quest to become a significant player in the oil industry, as the nation officially launched the drilling process for commercial oil production in the Western Region district of Kikuube on the shores of Lake Albert. The drilling process is being carried out at the Kingfisher Oil Field, which is operated by Chinese state-owned oil giant China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). The launch was attended by President Yoweri Museveni, who thanked China for its continued cooperation with Africa and its efforts to ensure mutual benefit in the economic sector.
The Ugandan government has long touted the potential for oil to be a major driver of economic growth and development, and President Museveni emphasized that the nation would carefully use the revenues generated from oil production to support these goals. The government has previously stated that revenues from oil production would be directed towards transport and energy infrastructure development. The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Zhang Lizhong, also expressed optimism that the investment by CNOOC in the Ugandan oil fields would greatly benefit the nation.
Chen Zhuobiao, the President of CNOOC Uganda, stated that the corporation is committed to ensuring that there is a transfer of skills, knowledge and technology to Ugandans, and that the local population will benefit from the oil production through contracts being awarded to local companies. He also reassured that the corporation will adhere to high environmental standards. The CEO of Uganda National Oil Company, Proscovia Nabbanja, announced that 31 wells will be drilled in the Kingfisher Oil Field, producing 40,000 barrels of oil per day.
It is worth noting that the drilling process at the Kingfisher Oil Field is taking place alongside drilling at the Tilenga oil field, which is operated by French oil giant TotalEnergies. The Tilenga area is expected to produce 190,000 barrels of oil per day, with 426 wells being drilled in the area. The crude oil extracted from both fields will be transported to a Central Processing Facility before being exported to the international market via the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) to the Tanzanian seaport of Tanga.
The Ugandan government remains optimistic that the nation will produce its first oil by 2025, and plans are also in place to construct an oil refinery. The official start of construction on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline was also announced at the launch event, after the government handed over a construction license.
The discovery of oil in 2006 in Uganda, with 6.5 billion barrels of oil found, of which 1.4 billion barrels are commercially viable, shows the significance of this development for the country’s economy. However, it is crucial that the government ensures that the oil industry benefits the local population and that environmental standards are met. It is also important to keep in mind that the oil industry is a highly sensitive sector and there is a potential for potential political and social implications, especially when it comes to the participation of foreign companies,
it is essential that the government carefully manages the process to ensure that it aligns with the nation’s long-term goals and interests.
Furthermore, it’s important to consider the geopolitical aspect of this development. As China’s state-owned oil giant, CNOOC, is heavily involved in this oil field, it’s a clear indication of China’s increasing economic ties with Africa. China has been actively seeking to expand its influence in Africa, both economically and politically, and this investment aligns with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to strengthen infrastructure and economic ties with countries around the world.
In conclusion, the launch of commercial oil production in Uganda marks a significant milestone for the nation and the oil industry. It is a clear indication of the potential for oil to be a major driver of economic growth and development, but it is crucial that the government manages the process carefully to ensure that it aligns with the nation’s long-term goals and interests and that the benefits of the oil industry are shared with the local population and that environmental standards are met. Additionally, the involvement of China in this oil field, highlights the increasing economic ties between China and Africa, and it’s important to keep an eye on the geopolitical implications of these ties.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author.
They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the AMeAR|News, R2iNTEL or its members.