After being granted a production license for its Kingfisher Oil field in Hoima District, Chinese oil company, CNOOC, have embarked on an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).
Government awarded CNOOC a production license in September this year. Zakalia Lubega, the CNOOC Uganda’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, says as a regulatory requirement an ESIA has to be undertaken and approved by the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA before production can commence.
Lubega says ESIA is a very vital planning tool to assess the potential positive and negative environmental and social impacts of the impending production activities. It also recommends ways to avoid or reduce such negative effects to enhance benefits.
Two firms—Golder Associates and Eco and Partner Consults Limited—are working on the study.
Lubega explains that the study is focusing on different areas like air quality, quality of water, physical environment, existence of flora and fauna, and the general set up of the project area in terms of socio economic environment.
The study to be concluded in the next one year will cost around One billion Uganda shillings.
The oil company has also embarked on infrastructural development in its Buhuka area where the oil well is located. Lubega reveals that an upgrade of the airstrip in Buhuka is ongoing as well as improvement on docking space for ships that will be transporting equipment and machinery needed via water.
He says the procurement process for construction of an escarpment road linking to Buhuka and other roads connecting to the oil fields is also on.
Buhuka lies on the escarpment, only accessible by air or water, as there is no road connecting to the area.
Lubega, however, remained non-committal on when actual production will start. He says this will entirely depend on how faster these prior activities will go. Kingfisher oil field is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day during peak production.
Tisha Greyling, a researcher at Golder Associates, says her team is currently engaging various stakeholders to capture their concerns, which will be included in the report.
CNOOC Uganda is the first oil company to be granted a production license.