A TARMAC road snakes its way to an expanse of land below an escarpment.
On the shores of Lake Albert, and in what is known as the Albertine Graben, the flat land is a beehive of activity.
Once a remote settlement comprising homes, and attendant activities, Buhuka, characterised by a fish-eating bird the Kingfisher-is totally transformed today.
Located in Kyangwaali, Kikuube District, it is a portion of the Kingfisher Development Area, one of Uganda’s two upstream oil and gas projects.
It was there that exploration activities discovered oil at a depth of 2125 meters in 2006. Three more wells thereafter encountered viable reserves, according to the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU). This became Uganda’s second commercial discovery after the Waraga oil field a few kilometers away.
The Kingfisher oil field is about 15kms long and 3kms wide and is about 2kms below Lake Albert. It is estimated to have a total of 560M barrels of crude oil in place, out of which, 190 million barrels of oil (33%) is expected to be produced over a 20-25-year period.
It has 31 oil wells. Of these, 20 are production while 11 will be used to inject water to boost production.
Kingfisher will produce 40,000 barrels of crude oil per day for five years, after which production will decline. To maintain the plateau, production will then include Waraga, Mputa and Nzizi oil fields in Kaiso Tonya, a few kilometers from Kingfisher.
Following the announcement of the Final Investment Decision (FID) early last year, CNOOC Uganda Limited (28.33%), UNOC (15%) and TotalEnergies (56.67%) ramped up activity with the tier one contractors.
In July 2022, a rig was shipped to Uganda and has since been hoisted atop Kingfisher’s Well Pad 2 where construction had started earlier in the year.
On January 24th, 2023-history was made when drilling was launched, erecting a milestone on Uganda oil and gas journey ahead of first oil in 2025.
Chief guest, H.E. President Yoweri Museveni hailed the joint venture partners for the impressive progress on the projects. He reaffirmed commitment to continue with the projects.
The President said that the projects would help to address some of the environmental challenges through production of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). A total of 200,000 metric tonnes of LPG from the upstream and a refinery in Hoima, will reduce reliance on charcoal and firewood.
Uganda, he pointed out, had made the right decision to acquire expertise through training (of citizens) before embarking on exploration.
Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Zhang Lizhong reiterated his government’s commitment to ensuring that Ugandans benefit from the project.
“In the case of CNOOC Uganda Limited, they and their contractors have already employed more than 3,500 local workers. The amount regarding contracts awarded to Ugandan companies has reached 61 million dollars (excludes sub-contracts value),” he said.
“On the other hand, CNOOC Uganda Limited has delivered training programs to more than 300 oil and gas business contractors and about 3,000 oil and gas personnel.”
PAU Executive Director, Ernest Rubondo said the rig-LR8001-was specially designed for the Kingfisher project. PAU is the sub-sector regulator.
“It has the capacity to drill up to eight kilometers long with noise suppressing technology making it more environmentally friendly. The wells to be drilled in the Kingfisher field will vary from 2600 metres to 7400 metres in length depending on how far the targeted reservoir is from the location where drilling will start,” he stated.
On environment protection, he said PAU was “working with” the National Environment Management Authority and other agencies to “ensure the strictest environmental and safety practices and technology in the planning execution and decommissioning of the oil and gas projects in Uganda including the Kingfisher project.”
When drilling is completed, production tubing is installed and a well is suspended ahead of production.
Drilling for Tilenga, the sister oil and gas project, is expected soon following the arrival and ongoing assembling of a rig. Two more drilling rigs for Tilenga are on the way.
While the winding tarmac road ends at Buhuka, Uganda’s journey to oil and gas will continue into the foreseeable future with benefits for the country and citizens. END