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Shs16 Trillion Tilenga Oil Project Takes Shape, To Employ 7,000 People As Uganda Nears First Oil

Officials from Petroleum Authority of Uganda and joint venture partners show key areas of the Tilenga project


The Tilenga Oil Project managed by TotalEnergies EP Uganda is taking shape as Uganda draws nearer to the first oil expected by 2025.


Tilenga, the name of the project, was coined out of the two words, Til and Engabi, both meaning the Kob in Alur and Runyoro/Rugungu respectively.

The Tilenga Tilenga project is located in the northern part of the Lake Albert Basin in Buliisa and Nwoya, while the corresponding project, the Kingfisher is located in Kikuube district and is managed by CNOOC Uganda.


During a media tour of the Tilenga project  on Wednesday, it was observed that the industrial park of the project is a hive of activity as the first contractor, MotaEngil executes earthworks involving clearing for construction of different facilities that are critical for oil production.


A number of earth-moving machines and trucks are seen across the over 700 acres of land in Buliisa doing initial works in preparation for the building of the Central Processing Facility (CPF) and other facilities in the Tilenga Project Area.


Eng. Edrisa Kwizera, The Tilenga Project In-Country Representative for TotalEenergies, said  the US$4.6bn (UShs16.78 trillion) Tilenga project will at the peak employ 7,000 people, majority of whom will be Ugandans.

He says the industrial area is a key component of the Tilenga project because it will host a Central Processing Facility, Operator Support Base, Construction Support Base and Drilling Support Base  among other facilities. He says the Gunya oil pad is also located at this very industrial area of the Tilenga Project.

The project also has other satellite locations including 31 oil pads, 406 oil wells and flow lines that will transport the crude oil to the Central Processing Facility.


The ongoing oil activities are a result of the completion of major agreements signed between the governments of Uganda and Tanzania, with the oil and gas lead investors in recent months.


Gloria Sebikari, the Manager, Corporate Affairs & Public Relations at Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) explained that the Central Processing Facility for the Tilenga Project will be used to clean the crude oil  before it is transported by the 85km feeder pipeline to the main refinery in Kaabale, Hoima.

From Kabaale, the crude will be processed to the international market level ready for transportation by pipeline to Tanga in Tanzania.

The Tilenga oil project is taking shape

According to Sebikari, there are six oil fields in the Tilenga Oil Project.

“The fields are both in Murchison Falls National Park and within Buliisa district,” she said.


According to Eng. Kwizera, the construction camp alone in the industrial park of the Tilenga project will employ and accommodate 4,000 workers.

“I think this is the largest construction camp we have in the country,” he says, noting that a permanent installation is being set up where 3,000 workers will be living as they operate the plant for the next 25 years.

MotaEngil started earthworks in June 2021 and is expected to complete the works in the second quarter of this year.

“Because it is an extensive piece of work, it is being handed over in phases. The first part that was handed over is the Construction camp and the drilling support base. The handover process will continue,” Eng. Kwizera says.

Eng. Edrisa Kwizera, The Tilenga Project In-Country Representative addressing journalists

Local Content

He says that although MotaEngil is the main contractor, they employ more than 600 workers, with 98% of them being Ugandans and hundreds of them from the local community.

“MotaEngil has six sub-contractors and many of them are local companies,” he says.

Herbert Ssempogo, the Senior Corporate  Affairs Officer at Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), one of the joint venture companies, says UNOC ensures that the international oil companies fulfill the local content provisions an enshrined in the laws of the land.

“There are big contracts that go to tier one companies (mostly big foreign companies) because we don’t have the experience in oil, but the big contractors are compelled to subcontract Ugandan companies (Tier Two and Tier Three companies),” he says.


First oil assurance

The joint venture partners; TotalEnergies EP Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Limited and Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) are ready to deliver Uganda’s first oil by 2025.


Eng. Kwizera assures Ugandans that the project is on schedule  to meet the first oil deadline (2025).

“For us in Tilenga,  we shall be ready for startup inline with the first oil schedule and we are confident about that as we stand today,” he says, adding that: “We continue to actively manage any risk that come with a project of this size.”

Speaking about recent reports of environmental pollution, Eng. Kwizera said that since it is a massive site with earthworks, dust will no doubt be generated. He is however quick to add that the contractor has put in place dust suppression measures.

“We have water bowsers that the contractor deploys from time to time when there’s dust. However, you could have gusts of wind lift up the dust in the air for short intervals,” he said.


He added that the Tilenga Project undertook a massive environment social impact assessment between 2015 and 2019 that was eventually approved by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

“We have since developed environment and social management plans. We have robust environment management plans that are embedded in the contracts that we award,” he said.

Tilenga will have a capacity to produce 204,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the six oil fields and 406 oil wells.


Uganda has 6.5 billion barrels of discovered oil and  about 1.7 billion of these are recoverable.


Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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