Energy minister Irene Muloni on Tuesday opened the second bidding round for five oil blocks in the Albertine Graben, including two blocks that were left over from the last licensing round in 2015.
The blocks include Ngaji in Kanungu and Rukungiri districts; Kasuruban in Buliisa and Packwach; Avivi in Arua district; Turaco in Ntoroko district; and Omuka in Nebbi district.
Ms Muloni said the government expects to issue exploration licences and sign deals with the successful firms by December 2020. The announcement of the licensing round was made at the East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition in Mombasa, Kenya.
The energy ministry will issue a notice inviting interested companies to submit expressions of interest in the coming days, according to the minister. This will be followed by an evaluation period, with both processes expected to take about six months.
Ngaji and Turaco were left over from the first bidding round which attracted 17 mainly small and independent oil companies.
Ngaji covers Lake Edward and parts of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and is part of the Greater Virunga Landscape which includes DR Congo’s Virunga National Park – Africa’s oldest national park and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Local and international pressure over the effects of drilling in the Virunga park and the Greater Virunga discouraged oil firms from bidding for the block. Ms Muloni, however, was optimistic about its prospects in the latest round, “having learnt lessons from the past.”