Uganda extends oil exploration licence for Nigeria’s Oranto by two years

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s oil ministry said it has granted Nigerian firm Oranto Petroleum Limited a two-year renewal of an oil exploration licence for two blocks located in the west of the country.

The licence extension, which covers the Ngassa Deep and Ngassa Shallow exploration areas, will allow the firm to conduct both exploration and appraisal drilling activity, the ministry said in a statement released late on Friday.

Uganda discovered commercial oil deposits in its Albertine Graben basin along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, and aims to commence production in 2025.

The country’s two development fields, Kingfisher and Tilenga, are jointly owned by France’s TotalEnergies, China’s CNOOC and Uganda’s state-owned Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC).

Environmental groups and climate change activists have criticised Uganda’s efforts to develop its oil resources, saying it will soil fragile eco-systems, displace people and ruin livelihoods.

Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa rejected the criticism and said Uganda was “committed to responsibly developing our oil and gas resources.”

“Proceeds from petroleum resources will be channelled into supporting Uganda’s efforts to achieve its energy transition plan,” Nankabirwa added in the statement.

Oranto has held the licences to the blocks since 2017.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hereward Holland and Alexander Smith)