01 August, 2008

Uganda's Quest for Oil

Uganda hasn't had as much and as an extensive oil exploration history as Kenya and Tanzania. But it has been the luckiest: it has struck oil and is expected to start producing about 10,000 barrels of high-quality crude oil a day, next year; which would reportedly reach 350,000 barrels a day, in five years. Below photo near Lake Albert, an oil rig can be seen in the distance.

For Uganda, a country that has slowly been emerging from instability and civil conflict, the discovery of oil is a big blessing and should help in transforming the country and propelling its economy. The Ugandan government already is planning for a refinery and pipelines. It's also planning for further oil exploration around and on Lake Albert and in the North, close to Sudan.

The discovery of oil - by propelling its economy, could be an enormous blessing for Uganda's people and help very much in lifting Uganda out of decay and poverty; and assist in healing the many wounds that Ugandans have. That is: if oil earnings are used wisely and humanely. For Uganda to properly benefit from its oil earnings, the North has to be settled and have peace; and its differences over the border over Lake Albert with the Congo, has to be approached and settled in a civilized, sober manner - preferably by using International arbitrators.

Environmentally, while prospecting for oil, Uganda has to take great care in protecting its other great natural resources: water, land and wildlife. The oil industry has been known to be one of the most merciless and damaging to the environment. It would be senseless for Uganda to benefit from oil now, and after oil has been depleted, the country and the future generations have to live with an environmental mess.

Already, with the little exploration that has been done, many tracts - like in the photo above - and airstrips have been created to facilitate the oil search. For transport: trucks, choppers, small aeroplanes and boats move over the oil fields. All this disrupt the land, lakes, rivers, wildlife and even people's lives who are in the area. Hopefully, Uganda will in the long run make its oil a real blessing for its people and not only transform a few people's lives in Kampala, but that of most Ugandans.

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