The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has officially lifted the suspension on works at the Kingfisher Development Area (KFDA) in Kikuube district.
Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director of PAU, made the announcement on October 13 and highlighted the extensive safety measures and reviews that led to this decision.
He stated, “This step has been taken after rigorous examination of all standard procedures to ensure that the health and safety requirements are being robustly implemented by all contractors and sub-contractors.”
The Authority has reviewed and realigned the safety protocols with the operator for overall improvement in the HSE culture and practices during operations.”
The resumption of operations at KFDA follows the implementation of additional preliminary safety measures and an enhancement of the overall strategy for contractor Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) management.
“The Petroleum Authority of Uganda has undertaken a comprehensive review of safety procedures to ensure the well-being of all individuals involved in the oil and gas operations in the area,” he said.
The Authority is confident that the agreed-upon safety procedures, when rigorously implemented, will provide a secure environment for all those engaged in the Kingfisher Development Area.
This decision paves the way for the continuation of essential oil and gas operations while prioritising the safety and health of workers and the community.
The suspension which was announceed on October 7, followed a deadly accident the previous day in the Kikuube district’s Kingfisher Project Development Area.
PAU, the sector regulator, deemed the disaster unacceptable, especially in light of the series of preceding incidents that involved the contractors responsible for transporting drilling equipment for China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda Limited, the company managing the oil block.
The regulator had previously issued warnings to these contractors regarding their operations.
“The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to direct that inn accordance with Section 177 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, 2013 CNOOC halts all Kingfisher field development operations from 00.00 hours until further notice,” the letter signed by Rubondo read in parts.
Gloria Sebikari, manager of Corporate Affairs for PAU, said in a statement that one of the sub-contractor’s employees died due to the accident.
This comes as Uganda races to end over a decade’s wait to pump out its first oil by 2025.
Kingfisher is sandwiched between the winding ridges of the Western Rift valley and the calm blue waters of Lake Albert.
It is the second biggest oil production project after Tilenga with an anticipated production capacity of 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) when production commences.
It is here that CNOOC Uganda Limited has planned to set up a Central Processing Facility (CPF) for oil from 31 wells to be drilled on four well pads.
There will be 16 kilometres of flow lines and a 55 kilometre feeder pipeline from the CPF in Buhuka village, Kyangwali Sub-County in Kikuube district in Western Uganda to the export hub and the oil refinery in Kabaale parish in Hoima district.