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What Will It Take to Commercialise Petroleum Resources in the East Africa Region; the Case of Developing Oil Refinery in Uganda


Energy is one of the key drivers of economic growth and development world over. All the countries in the East African Region (EAR) are not producing sufficient energy to meet their current needs. The energy mix in the EAR currently includes hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, solar, biomass and fossil fuels. The region's petroleum products consumption, the entire volume of which is currently imported, is estimated at 200,000 bbl/day and is growing at between 4 – 6% p.a. It is projected that the region will consume about 400,000 bbl/day by 2030. The discovery of commercially viable oil and gas deposits in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo however, marks a great opportunity to turn around the rather bleak state of the energy sector in the region. These resources however remain largely untapped due to lack of the necessary infrastructure such as road networks, upstream facilities, refinery, pipelines, and gas processing facilities, that are necessary to access, store, process and transport these resources. A number of countries in the EAR are planning for the development of such key infrastructure to enable the commercialization of the discovered these resources. The EAR needs to hamonise the planning and development of petroleum infrastructure in order to leverage the power of collaborative action to attract investment and ensure optimal development of this infrastructure. A case in point is Uganda which plans to commercialise its discovered oil and gas resources, estimated at 6.5 billion barrels as of 2016, through the development of an oil refinery, a crude oil export pipeline and power generation. These projects are being developed with joint participation of the East African Community (EAC) Partner States. Uganda estimates to spend over USD 10 billion on oil and gas infrastructure in the next five years. The region needs to provide a conducive investment environment in order to attract financing for these projects. This can be achieved through providing incentives such as attractive taxation regimes, streamlined decision making and security, among others, given the high CAPEX investments. Given that background, this paper will; - Assess the optimal infrastructure requirements for the successful development of the oil and gas industry in order to meet the region's growing energy needs. - Highlight the investment requirements, incentives, challenges and financing options for the planned refinery in Uganda.