The delay by oil companies to announce the details for commencement of the oil development phase – known in oil speak as the Final Investment Decision (FID) should be considered as an opportunity rather than a missed opportunity for Ugandans, the Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary has advised.
Robert Kasande, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy And Mineral Development who represented Energy and Mineral Development minister Irene Muloni at the public hearing in Kikuube said that the delay in Final Investment Decisions should be used by Ugandans to better prepare for the opportunities of oil exploitation.
Energy company greycellsenergy.com defines FID as: “The point at which everything is in place for a project to say “yes, let’s go ahead”. It’s when the project execution phase begins and the big money starts being spent on project construction.”
Kasande observed that: “If Ugandans are able to participate in whichever way whether it is supply of a service or supply of a good, that will be meaningful participation of Ugandans and we believe that that way, this oil will definitely be a blessing and not a curse as people have said.”
Kasande made the remarks during a Public hearing for the Environment and Social Impact Assessment of the Kingfisher oil field that was held at Kikuube in Hoima districts that was held a fortnight ago
“This public hearing brings us closer to what everyone is waiting for; the Final Investment Decision that will usher in the engineering procurement and construction phase which the country stands to reap from immensely,” noted Kasande.
During the public hearing, one of the key issues raised by the people in Hoima was the fact that they had no access to employment opportunities as most of jobs were ‘occupied’ by people from other regions of the country.
Pius Wakabi, the Bugahya county legislator said he was worried that his people are being left out when it comes to employment opportunities.
He said that as a sign of the loss of job opportunities suffered by his community is that Luganda is becoming the predominant language in towns where native Runyoro used to be spoken as mother tongue.
“I have been moving around Hoima town but when you go in social gatherings, the language has even changed from Runyoro to Luganda which means that most of the people working in the oil-related activities are people from Kampala,” he said.
PeninahAheebwa, the Director Technical support noted that the purpose of the hearing was is to ensure that oil and gas activities are undertaken in a manner that conserves the environment and advances the social economic lifestyles of the communities in which oil is developed.
“Our role is to ensure that international oil companies are following the national oil and gas policy and that all oil and gas activities are implemented in a manner that does not degrade the environment and cultural heritage of the people of Uganda but improve their wellbeing.