The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the petroleum sector regulator, has launched the National Supplier Database, which will serve as a one-stop centre for local and international oil and gas suppliers.
The centre will list all companies providing services – ranging from catering, clearing & forwarding, logistics, and security – to the petroleum industry. This is to enable easy access and consideration during procurement.
“Only entities listed in the NSD will be eligible to participate,” said Mr Ernest Rubondo, the executive director of the PAU. The NSD was also launched alongside the PAU’s website, www.pau.go.ug, on which it can be viewed by anyone.
Mr Rubondo revealed that 753 local and international service providers have so far expressed interest and provided contact information for listing in the database.
Of the 753 companies, 501 are registered in Uganda. The authority is working with both the Uganda Revenue Authority and the Uganda Bureau of Registration to authenticate the information they provided regarding tax compliance and proof of registration. The other 253 companies are registered in, among other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, France, Tanzania, Norway and India.
“For international entities, we are working with their embassies here to try to verify their information from back home,” Mr Rubondo added.
So far, 293 firms which applied before the first deadline, last year, have already been verified and listed on the database. Others will be added “subject to verification.”
The launch of the NSD comes in the wake of ongoing debates on local participation in the sector, particularly as the country moves to the development and commercial oil production stages.
The PAU board chair, Dr Jane Mulemwa said that an estimated $20bn will be invested in the country during the two phases over the coming years.
Local participation in the petroleum sector has been a thorny subject from the announcement of the discovery of commercial oil deposits ten years ago. To make things worse, the last two years have seen prominent local service providers in the freight, clearing and forwarding businesses handicapped by high interest loans against a backdrop of slow activity in the sector and the slowed economy.
But the recent awarding of production licences to the UK’s Tullow Oil and France’s Total E&P paved way for the next capital-intensive development phase. This will lead to production, which the government hopes will commence in 2020.
Mr Emmanuel Mugarura, the executive officer of the Association of Uganda Oil and Gas Providers, described the database as a “starting point” to advocate for local content. “What is left for us now is to improve on our standards so we don’t lose out,” he said.