Petroleum Authority holds hearings on environmental impact of Kingfisher project

About 6,000 stakeholders have today thronged Rwemisanga Primary School in Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district to participate in the first environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) public hearing for the Kingfisher Development project operated by CNOOC Uganda Ltd.

The public hearing, the third of it’s kind to be organised by Petroleum Authority of Uganda in partnership with the National Environment Management Authority, is intended to provide a platform in which all relevant stakeholders and developers can provide inputs on the proposed project that will be taken into consideration during the review of the ESIA.

Peninah Aheebwa, the director technical support services at the Petroleum Authority said the public hearings and the ESIA report are organised in accordance with the National Environment Act and Regulations.

“Our role is to ensure that international oil companies adhere to the country’s legal and regulatory framework and international best practice. This includes ensuring that all the oil and gas projects are implemented in a manner that does not degrade the environment and cultural heritage of the people of Uganda, but improves their wellbeing.” Ms Aheebwa said.

Ms Aheebwa asked participants to “express your opinions openly and objectively.”

The permanent secretary in the ministry of energy and mineral development, Robert Kasande, said the public hearing was an important step towards ‘first oil’.

“This public hearing brings us closer to what everyone is waiting for. One of the precursors to the final investment decision is proper documentation of both the positive and negative environment and social impacts of the projects, and the mitigation measures,” said Mr Kasande.

The project’s environmental and social impact assessment was conducted by Golder Associates from the United Kingdom and Eco & Partner Consult Limited from Uganda on behalf of CNOOC Uganda, which awarded a production license in 2012. The assessment presents a description of the project facilities, its potential positive and negative impacts, and mitigation measures during the construction, operation and decommissioning phases.

Cui Yujun, the vice president of CNOOC Uganda, presented the ESIA Report on behalf of the company; CNOOC is the lead developer of the Kingfisher project. A copy of the ESIA and its summary can be accessed on the websites of the Petroleum Authority and NEMA.

The executive director of NEMA, Tom Okurut, said the resolutions from the public hearing will affect the final decision on the award of the environmental impact assessment certificate for the Kingfisher project, which is necessary before oil production commences.

“Your views will determine whether CNOOC is awarded the [ESIA] certificate or not. Our role is to ensure that this oil is produced in a manner that uplifts the environment and does not become hazardous to our lives but instead makes it better,” Mr Okurut said.

Andrew Byakutaga, the Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom asked CNOOC to respect the norms, cultures and wellbeing of the natives as they implement the project and do it in a way that uplifts their dignity and cultural heritage.

“Our cultural heritage like the tombs, historical sites, tourism spots, birds, and animals must be protected. These have defined as the people of Bunyoro for hundreds of years. As much as we want this oil, we also want to preserve our environment and culture,” he said.

Other stakeholders implored the project’s developers to ensure fair compensation for their land and that the host communities benefit the jobs and opportunities to provide goods and services.

The Kingfisher project components will be located in Kikuube and Hoima Districts and include:

  1. The development of four well pads holding 31 wells (20 production wells and 11 water injection wells).
  2. A central processing facility.
  3. Flowlines to transport well fluids from production wells to the central processing facility.
  4. A 46km feeder pipeline to transport crude oil from the central processing facility to the delivery point in Kabaale, Hoima District.
  5. Associated supporting infrastructure: camps, materials laydown yard, jetty, airstrip, and infield access roads, among others.

The project developers are CNOOC Uganda Limited (operator), Total E&P Uganda, and Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited.

The public hearing was presided over by Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo from the School of Gender Studies at Makerere University. Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee led by Hon. Keefa Kiwanuka were also present.

Another public hearing will be held on Friday, June 21 2019 in Kaabale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima district to discuss the report.