We note the concerns raised in the media regarding the potential risk of pollution of water bodies posed by oil and gas activities.
Oil spills unquestionably are one of the significant risks in the petroleum production process, irrespective of where this takes place, more so in environmentally sensitive areas.
Government has put in place robust institutional and legal framework, including the creation of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, with a specific mandate to ensure efficient and safe conduct of petroleum activities and protect the health and safety of the public.
This includes environmental protection and monitoring compliance with local and international standards.
Government recognizes the existence of the various sensitivities in the Albertine Graben including the River Nile and Lake Albert.
Therefore, inorder to ensure co-existence of the oil activities and the pristine environment, various measures have and will be undertaken to minimize the risk of pollution and ensure protection of biodiversity.
This includes continuous review and improvement of all laws, regulations and standards and use of the cutting-edge technologies.
Not only are all activities subject to Environment and Social Impact Assessments, there are other frameworks being implemented, including sensitivity mapping, risk assessment, environmental compliance monitoring and auditing.
These tools have also guided the choice of location and routing of planned infrastructure (pipelines, refinery, Central Processing Facilities) to avoid specific areas.
Indeed, Uganda is also one of the first countries to develop a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) prior to oil production.
The SEA is a planning tool to ensure that environmental concerns are included in all Government Plans, Programmes & Policies.
The SEA addresses the cumulative impacts of oil activities and the actions required by different sector players.
Specifically, to mitigate the risk of an oil spill, an Environment Risk Assessment (ERA) and Sensitivity Analysis for oil and gas operations in the Albertine Graben was undertaken.
This informed the development of an Oil Spill Contingency Plan that was drafted in consultation with the leading authorities in Uganda and internationally.
The Plan covers the level of Preparedness, Emergency response mechanism, Command structure, Resources available and Mechanisms for handling oil spill.
This will ensure that in the unlikely event of an oil spill, measures are in place to minimize the impacts.
The three decade long successful petroleum exploration campaign in Uganda with no significant environmental incidences and accidents attests to the commitment of Government and the Oil companies to ensure environment and biodiversity protection during oil and gas activities.
The Petroleum Authority takes this commitment very seriously and is closely working with other government agencies, industry partners and all stakeholders in enforcing compliance with national legislation and international guidelines and best practices to ensure safe and sustainable oil and gas activities.
Statement by Petroleum Authority of Uganda