Cnooc, Uganda National Oil Company sign oil exploration agreement

The Uganda National Oil Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to jointly explore oil in the Albertine oil region.

The agreement, according to a statement released to the press by the national oil company, is expected to expose Unoc to exploration work and prepare it to become an operator in the near future. The MoU was signed in Beijing, China, where the Uganda delegation had gone to attend the third high-level Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit.

The national oil company is tasked with managing Uganda’s commercial interests in the oil and gas industry. It was incorporated in 2015 under the Companies Act and is owned by the government through the ministries of energy and finance with a 51% and 49% shareholding, respectively.

The body carries the government’s 15% stake in the nine production licenses that have so far been issued to Total E&P, Tullow Oil, and Cnooc.

Josephine Wapakhabulo, the chief executive of the national oil company, signed on behalf of Unoc while Fang Zhi, the Cnooc chairman, signed on behalf of the Chinese oil company. President Yoweri Museveni was also present at the signing.

The agreement means that Unoc, just like any other oil company, can now bid for an oil block in the Albertine oil region and develop it with Cnooc.

Cnooc entered Uganda in 2012 after acquiring 33.33% of Tullow’s interest in the Buliisa fields. The company currently operates the Kingfisher oil block in Exploration Area 3 in Hoima district.

Ms Wapakhabulo commended the Chinese company’s interest in working with the Ugandan government to “ensuring sustainable as well commercial exploitation” Uganda’s oil resources.