Licence for Ngassa block to be awarded in October

Uganda will issue two exploration licences and also sign a Production Sharing Agreement for the Ngassa oil block, Hoima District, in early October, the energy minister has said.

Ms Muloni told this website that the Cabinet, in a 9 September meeting, approved both the licences to be granted to Oranto Petroleum International, a Nigerian firm, for the 410 sq km block. The meeting also approved a PSA to be signed with the firm.

Oranto was one of the four companies to reach final negotiations during the competitive licensing round which opened in February 2015. A total of seventeen bidders initially expressed interest in the six oil blocks that were available, but only four reached the final negotiation stage.

This followed new regulations in the sector under which exploration licences must be granted on a competitive basis.

Oranto Petroleum International is a sister company of Atlas Petroleum International Limited, another Nigerian firm which was among the seventeen that were shortlisted. Combined, the two have 21 oil and gas licences across the continent, in ten countries, including Uganda. They are owned by Arthur Eze, a Nigerian citizen.

Oranto’s licence and PSA were earlier scheduled to be issued and signed in June but the exercise was hastily called off to conduct further due diligence on the company.

Last week, the ministry issued an exploration licence and signed a PSA with Australian junior exploration company, Armour Energy Limited, one of the three successful bidders who expected a licence in June.

Read more: Exploration licence for Kanywataba field to be awarded Thursday

Ms Muloni has also revealed plans to open a fresh bidding round for the remaining three prospective oil blocks, Karuka-Taitai in Buliisa district, Mvule in Moyo and Yumbe, and the Ngaji block between Rukungiri and Kanungu.

She further disclosed that government is “making progress” on the review of Field Development Plans for the three oil fields operated by French firm, Total E&P. The fields are Jobi-Rii, Lyec, and Mpyo in Nwoya district. Once the FDPs are approved, production licences for the fields will be granted.

So far, Uganda has granted nine production licences: one for Cnooc, three for Total and five for Tullow, which is in process of completing sale of its majority stake to Cnooc and Total, who will now operate the licences.