Photo Credit: DiasporaEngager, the World's #1 International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Network Platform (, by Courtesy of Dr. Roland Holou. © All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: DiasporaEngager, the World's #1 International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Network Platform (, by Courtesy of Dr. Roland Holou. © All rights reserved.

By JULIUS BARIGABAMore by this Author

Chinese firm CNOOC, which holds the production licence for the Kingfisher area in Uganda, is waiting with bated breath for the environmental and social impact assessment to commence work.The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) is already receiving comments from the public based on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for Kingfisher. Based on these views, Nema will determine whether to give CNOOC the all-clear to start pumping crude oil from the Albertine Graben.Nema executive director Dr Tom Okurut told The EastAfrican that “many people have already come forward to give their views.”“The comments vary…Some people express fears on compensation, others on the area’s hydrology and its biodiversity,” he said.Kingfisher Development Project is the oil production infrastructure that is to be established in Buhuka Parish on the southeastern side of Lake Albert in Kikuube district, and a feeder pipeline will transport oil from the area to a delivery point at the proposed Kabaale Industrial Park in Hoima District.
The major components of the project include four onshore well pads, a Central Processing Facility (CPF), production and water injection flowlines linking the wells to the CPF, Lake water abstraction station, supporting infrastructure such as camps, a materials yard, a jetty and internal access road are also planned.The other key component of the Kingfisher project is a feeder pipeline to transport the stabilised crude from the CPF to a delivery point in Kabaale.CNOOC remains cagey over critics—mainly nongovernmental organisations, environmentalists and other lobby groups—that could derail the Chinese firm’s project from taking off.Already, about 20 civil society organisations have formed a working group to critique the two oil projects—Kingfisher that is operated by CNOOC, and the Tilenga project in the northern section the Albertine Graben that is operated by Total E&P and Tullow Oil Uganda.The NGOs argue that the oil production companies are spending money to put up plans instead of investing in actual mitigation actions.“Oil companies spend resources where they are not supposed to spend,” says Chris Emanzi of Global Rights Alert, adding that the ESIA review should propose actions to replace the said plans.“Such plans should be left to the regulatory institutions to develop… For example, establishing fish ponds as opposed to ‘establishment of a beach management plan,’” he says.One of the concerns that the Kingfisher Development Project ESIA raises is the impact of oil production on the unique biodiversity and biogeography of the Lake Albert Basin; the lake basin is part of the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot, is an endemic bird area, an International Union for Conservation of Nature key biodiversity area, a Global-200 Priority Ecoregion and part of the three globally important ecoregions, the report says.Lake Albert also supports the most diverse commercial fishery in Uganda, where the Bugoma Lagoon—an important habitat for fish and one of only six such environments on the lake—is located, while the escarpment forms a natural corridor between the Semliki/Toro Wildlife Reserve in the south, to the Budongo–Bugoma–Kagombe–Itwara Forest Reserves, through to the Murchison Falls National Park, in the north, which plays an important role in maintaining evolutionary processes.

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