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Uganda starts first oil drilling, eyes production in 2025

President Yoweri Museveni Tuesday commissioned Uganda’s first of four oil rigs to start drilling at the Kingfisher field on the shores of Lake Albert as the country eyes production in 2025.

The three other rigs will be installed at Tilenga.

Uganda discovered crude reserves estimated at 6.5 billion barrels, with 1.4 billion recoverable nearly two decades ago in the western region in the Lake Albertine basin, Kingfisher and Tilenga oilfields.

Mr Museveni switched on the rig – a LR8001 deluxe land rig – installed in November 2022 at the Pad-2 site at Buhuuka village, Kibuube District. It is operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and will start drilling 31 oil wells on four well pads.

At current oil prices of about $87.5 per barrel, the Kingfisher project will account for 15 percent of the total oil revenue to the government from upstream operations, equivalent to $6.9 billion for the entire project, or $360 million per year, Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda said.

The French TotalEnergies’ operated Tilenga Project – which will produce 190,000 barrels of oil per day – will account for 85 percent of the expected oil revenues.

The rig at Kingfisher will drill oil wells at varying depths, the shortest of which is about 2.6 kilometres, while the deepest is 7.4 kilometres, said Mr Rubondo, adding that the oil field extends about three kilometres into the lake.

The project is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day in 2025, but CNOOC officials are optimistic they could deliver the first oil ahead of schedule.

Uganda plans to export the oil and refine and support local petro-chemical based industrial projects.

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