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Works On Albertine’s Oil Fields Takeoff Despite Opposition

The procurement moment for the development of oil and gas in the Albertine is almost over with most of the lucrative deals tendered out. The award of contracts after the Final Investment Decision-FID by TotalEnergies SE and its partner CNOOC has sent boots on the grounds propelling major developments in the Kingfisher and Tilenga oil projects.

Workers and equipment are increasingly flowing to the two areas as they race to meet the deadline for extracting the first oil in 2025 despite growing protests by environmental activists against funding projects in the Albertine and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. At the beginning of February TotalEnergies and CNOOC agreed to provide over US$ 10billion to fund the development of oil projects and the construction of the crude oil pipeline. They set timelines within, which to put up the infrastructure for oil to begin flowing.

An official at TotalEnergies’ Tilenga project told URN that with the tendering almost over, they are at a point of “no turning back” as they strive to meet the expectations. The discovery of commercial deposits of oil and gas in the Albertine in 2006 has raised expectations among Ugandans. As of December 2021, Uganda had an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of oil of which, 1.4 billion were recoverable.

Some Ugandans had questioned whether the country’s oil will ever come out of the ground. URN has recently been to the Kingfisher and project Tilenga. The changes triggered by the FID in February are quite visible going by the vast hectares of land being cleared for both projects. Different engineering firms and their subcontractors have descended on Buhuka in Kikube and Buliisa districts.

While there is an impression that many firms are shunning the project over environmental concerns, a number of foreign firms have taken up jobs in the oil fields.

Progress On Tilenga under TotalEnergies

Early in March this year, TotalEnergies awarded a U$611 million deal to Sinopec to provide engineering, procurement, supply, construction, and commissioning services for the Tilenga oilfield development.

Major changes are expected with Sinopec on the grounds in Nwoya and Buliisa districts. TotalEnergies in June 2021 gave oilfield technologies giant Schlumberger an over US$350 million deal for wellheads and Christmas trees and their commissioning.

Another major company on the ground is McDermott International, Ltd. The companies are expecting the oil field, which will include 31 well pads, to generate up to 200,000 barrels per day.

France’s Vallourec Oil & Gas was awarded a contract for the casing, tubing, and other services valued at around US$120 million. A number of Ugandans engineering firms have taken up jobs as subcontractors. According to TotalEnergies EP Uganda’s General Manager, Philippe Groueixcivil, the works for the enabling infrastructure have progressed well with over 50%.

“We already allowed in some part of the area to McDermott as the main EPCC contractor. And we have also handed over another section to Vallourec Oil & Gas. Very soon we shall start seeing some tube rails come in,” said, Phillipe

A number of roads are expected to be constructed to connect to the 31 well pads within the fields. Completion of the road will pave way for the establishment of the good pads. There are plans to put a housing estate in Bugungu.

The contract for the construction of the estate was awarded. It is expected to take about one year to complete. “Before we can start any activity we need to accommodate the workers. And there is a small city that you will see emerging. The first parts will be completed by end of June ready to operate with 1000 people. So what is nice is that you go there, it’s no longer civil works but you see construction activity,” said Phillippe.

Three rigs are also expected from China within the year. The project in Buliisa sits on a two-kilometer by 1.5-kilometer radius, which should be covered by infrastructure before oil production begins. “We are moving in the right direction. We have a lot of Ugandan partners having already joined. A lot more will join as sub-contractors of our main contractors,” he explained.

Kingfisher Project by CNOOC

The Kingfisher oil field development will comprise four well pads, 20 production wells, and 11 water injection wells. The good pads will be connected through infield flow lines to a central processing facility capable of producing 40,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The project is expected to be complete by end of 2023. Civil works on the field commenced on Feb 11th, 2022 with the award of the contract to local construction firm Excel.

In mid-March, CNOOC subcontracted Petroleum Exploration & Development Research Institute, a unit of China’s Sinopec Jianghan Oilfield to provide engineering, procurement, and construction services for ground facilities at the Kingfisher oilfield comprising 31 wells with a number of producer and injection wells.

If one was at the Kingfisher area at the end of 2021, she/ he will be surprised by the drastic changes that have happened since the FID was taken. As one descends through the Buhuka escarpment, the eyes are welcomed by the new blue and red-roofed houses.

A number of machines and pipes that used not exist are on site. Excel excavators and trucks are seen clearing the fields on, which the Central Processing Facility (CPF), thirty-one (31) wells and 11 injectors, and 20 producers will be developed. Four well pads will be ready before oil production begins.

-URN

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