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Uganda to Fast-Track Oil Exploration, Drilling

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 1/30/2007, Location: Africa

International exploration companies operating in Uganda will fast track their oil exploration and drilling projects to ensure the country produces oil by 2009, a government official told DJN Monday.

Reuben Kashambuzi, the commissioner in charge of petroleum products at the Energy and Minerals Ministry, said companies are working around the clock with the support from the government to ensure that the various oil exploration projects are fast-tracked to enable the country produce oil by 2009.

"All companies operating in Uganda have increased their exploration budgets to fast-track their projects" he said.

Companies operating in Uganda include Australia-based Hardman Resources, which last year discovered an estimated 300 million barrels of oil deposits at block B in the Bunyoro subregion, at the shores of Lake Albert in Western Uganda. The ministry said Block 2 represents only 6% of the oil exploration areas in the region.

Uganda has already signed an early oil production agreement with U.K. based Tullow Oil (TQW.DB), which acquired Hardman last year. The company is currently carrying out a feasibility study that is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

According to government, the early oil production scheme will involve setting up a small refinery with initial production estimated at 10,000 barrels a day in 2009, will eventually rising to up to 40,000 b/d within two years.

Heritage Oil & Gas International, another company operating in Uganda, also said it would fast-track its projects, the state-run media reported over the weekend.

The report quoted Heritage Chief Executive Tony Buckingham as saying the company had sold its 25% stake in Kouakouala in the Democratic Republic of Congo to refocus on its core areas in Uganda.

The company has an exploration license for Block 3A in the Bunyoro subregion, and for Block 1 in northern Uganda.

The company discovered oil deposits at its Block 3A after drilling half of its exploration area and oil deposits were estimated at 4,000 b/d. Drilling is ongoing in the area and is expected to hit the targeted depth next month, the company has said.

Uganda spends around $500 million a year on oil imports.

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