Uganda races against time on oil infrastructure plan

Oil output28 February 2014, Kampala – Uganda’s oil industry faces a tight race against time to put in place the infrastructure needed before the first barrel can be produced.

At a dialogue with civil society organisations at Hotel Africana last week, government revealed a detailed infrastructure plan, with the most crucial items being the refinery and the pipeline. The government has already committed itself to building a refinery in Kabaale parish in Hoima- a project expected to last three-to-five years. The land for the refinery is not yet fully secured, while the lead investor is yet to be identified.

In his presentation at Hotel Africana, Dozith Abeinomugisha, a principal geologist in the Petroleum Exploration and Production department (PEPD), discussed key infrastructure needed to feed the refinery – including three internal crude oil pipelines. These are the 97-kilometre northern pipeline from Nwoya and Buliisa oil fields, the 50-kilometre pipeline from Kingfisher [Buhuka, Kyangwali sub-county], Hoima district and another pipeline from Kaiso-Tonya.

According to the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development sector review report 2013, a study for internal crude pipelines was concluded in March 2012 but two years down the road, procurement and actual design of the pipelines are yet to start. The construction and development of these crude pipelines will be facilitated by the oil companies, according to the report.

In addition to the pipelines, Abeinomugisha said, the country will need three central processing facilities (CPFs). A CPF is basically ‘the first refinery’, where oil is “stabilised” before it becomes tradable crude. From the underground, oil is mixed with sand, water, gasses and other impurities, so the CPF is where these impurities are removed from the oil.’

According to Abeinomugisha, Uganda will need one CPF in Buliisa for the northern fields, another CPF at Kaiso-Tonya, and a third one near the Kingfisher field. Before the process of refining starts, the country will have to also first construct a storage facility in Buloba, off Mityana road, in Wakiso district. This is important because once production starts, any excess crude can be stored at Buloba.

The storage facility is also important in that during periods when there is no refining [maybe when the refinery has been shut down for maintenance], crude can be stored at Buloba.


– The Observer

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