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Uganda to Open Oil Exploration Licensing Round

Source: Reuters 2/2/2011, Location: Africa

Uganda will open a new petroleum exploration licensing round for blocks in its oil-rich Albertine Rift basin in 2011, four years after it suspended licensing to amend regulation, a government official said.

Uganda has five yet-to-be licensed exploration blocks covering 8,000 square km along its western boarder with Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The national oil and gas policy is in place and is being operationalised through formulation of new legislation. In the course of this year, we shall be offering a round of bidding for some of the exploration areas," Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi, told a regional petroleum conference.

The east African country discovered significant hydrocarbon deposits in 2006. Tullow Oil expects to start pumping commercial quantities of oil in 2012.

Uganda first mentioned the possibility of a new licensing round late last year.

Emboldened by a string of oil discoveries in three of the five licensed blocks, the government has said it will demand tougher terms in future new production-sharing agreements (PSAs) in the Albertine Graben.

"In the past we licensed explorers on the basis of first-come, first-serve. When we resume later this year, it will be bidding and companies will have to compete," said energy ministry permanent secretary, Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa.

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