NEMA clears Cnooc on Kingfisher, but no end in sight to oil deadlock

The National Environment Management Authority today granted an environment certificate to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation Uganda Ltd for its Kingfisher oil block, south of Lake Albert.

The issuance of the certificate is the culmination of the three year back and forth approval process of Cnooc’s environmental and social impact assessment study for the Kingfisher project in Kikuube and Hoima districts.

The Kingfisher development area includes infrastructure to pump oil from fields, a central processing facility, a feeder pipeline, and other supporting amenities.

Zhao Shunqiag, the Cnooc president, said receiving the certificate is a “milestone”. But he said he could not tell when the ongoing deadlock between the government and the oil companies—Total E&P, and Tullow Oil—would be resolved to move forward.

The deadlock, which has deferred the final investment decision — worth $10bn — on the Albertine projects to possibly the first quarter of next year, came to the fore last August after the collapse of Tullow Oil’s sale of its assets to Total and Cnooc.

“It is in everyone’s interest that we see first oil very soon,” Mr Shunqiang told reporters.

The NEMA executive director, Tom Okurut, assured the public of the continued monitoring of the company’s operations to ensure a minimum footprint on the environment.

Cnooc is the main operator of Exploration area 3 — the Kingfisher field — in Hoima. The field’s production licence was the first to be granted in 2013. Oil reserves at the field are estimated at around 800 million barrels.