Uganda on Tuesday launched its first oil drilling programme, its petroleum agency said, a key milestone as the country races to meet its target of first oil output in 2025.
The Kingfisher field is part of a $10bn scheme to develop Uganda’s oil reserves under Lake Albert in the west of the country and build a vast pipeline to ship the crude to international markets via an Indian Ocean port in Tanzania.
“The president [Yoweri Museveni] has officially commissioned the start of drilling campaign on the Kingfisher oilfield,” the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) said on Twitter, describing the development as a “milestone”.
The East African nation discovered commercial reserves of petroleum nearly two decades ago in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions but production has been repeatedly delayed by a lack of infrastructure like a pipeline.
The Kingfisher field, operated by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, PAU said.
“We are excited as a country and Africa,” energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa told the AFP news agency.
PAU, which regulates the petroleum sector, said President Yoweri Museveni launched the programme at a site in the Kingfisher project area, one of the country’s two commercial oil development areas.