UNOC’s path to Sustainable exploitation of Uganda’s Oil and Gas resources

The Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) is responsible for managing the Government’s commercial interests in the petroleum sector and is mandated to ensure that the resource is exploited in a sustainable manner. Uganda’s confirmed petroleum resource base is currently estimated at 6.5 billion barrels of Stock Tank Oil-Initially-In-Place (STOIIP). Of this, between 1.4 to 1.7 billion barrels are estimated to be recoverable.

As Uganda prepares for a future where energy demand is high, coupled with expectations of lower Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, environmental safeguards have been put in place to identify and manage Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) risks and impacts associated with UNOC’s operations. Consequently, all our oil and gas projects are adhering to internationally accepted standards for managing environmental and social impacts.

UNOC has developed an ESG Strategy which demonstrates the Company’s commitment, approach and workplan for addressing its Environmental, Social, and Governance aspects. We believe these aspects are intrinsically important to the company and its stakeholders, within its current and future business processes and operations. Six Priority Areas form the foundation of our ESG Strategy and demonstrate UNOC’s continued commitment to sustainability as inspired and guided by all United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include Good Governance; Climate Change Adaptation & Mitigation; Quality Health Safety & Environment; Social License to Operate; Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and National Participation.

UNOC is currently developing a Climate Action Alliance (CAA) and Plan as a response to the high rate of deforestation in Uganda, and the need to ensure reduced carbon emissions from Uganda’s Oil & Gas sector. The Alliance will bring together different stakeholders to collaboratively develop a sustainable response to climate change issues, through the conservation and establishment of nature-based carbon sinks.

As an initial intervention to realize the equivalent carbon drawdown of 1,000,000 Metric Tonnes of GHG emissions from the atmosphere, a reforestation and afforestation project (40 million trees on 40,000 to 100,000 hectares of land) is being established. A sustainable forestry management strategy and plan are currently being developed to guide the implementation of the projects under the CAA. These projects will contribute to the achievement of the global warming targets set by the Paris Agreement.  A Go-Green campaign was also launched at the Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) where over 2,350 have been planted.

Several other sustainability initiatives are currently being implemented under UNOC’s Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Management System. These include, Environmental and Social Risk and Impact Assessments, and Resettlement Action Planning and Implementation, among others. These initiatives are critical in determination of ESG material issues to UNOC and its stakeholders. UNOC is also committed to obtaining a social license to operate for its’ projects and enhance the quality of life for project host communities affected by Oil and Gas projects.

Furthermore, the company is exploring the Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) business which will promote a shift from the use biomass to cleaner energy. Our oil and gas projects will enable significant production of tonnes of LPG which is needed as a substitute for charcoal and firewood to reduce the loss of forest cover. The planned Refinery also plans to produce cleaner fuels conforming to Euro 5/Afri-6 specifications as well as to reduce emissions from transportation of refined petroleum products from East Africa. Subsequently, the petrochemical industries will significantly improve the balance of trade payments for Uganda.

As Uganda is on a Low Carbon Development pathway, we plan to develop our resources sustainably through adhering to a no flaring policy, decarbonizing of projects through electrification by renewables (hydro, solar and geothermal), embracing technological advances, and strengthening our national environmental laws & regulations among others. With this, we envision that the Oil & Gas sector will contribute to solving the East Africa region's energy challenges through the provision of energy security. 

The above interventions will enhance UNOC’s capacity to sustainably exploit oil and gas resources, to meet Uganda’s current and future energy demands, and ensure the realisation of a just energy transition for the benefit of present and future generations.