By Daniel Mwesigwa
TotalEnergies yesterday announced a Final Investment Decision worth US$ 10 billion for Uganda’s Oil and Gas projects.
The announcement at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds was made by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne, in the presence of President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Isdor Mpango (Vice President, Tanzania).
The announcement, however, reminded the Country of her journey in the Oil and Gas sector.
This journey cannot be talked about without mentioning four people: Ernest Rubondo (Executive Director, Petroleum Authority of Uganda), Dr. Fred Kaliisa Kabagambe (retired Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and current Senior Presidential Advisor on Energy and Mineral Development), Robert Kasande (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and former P.S, Ministry of energy and Mineral Development) and Reuben Kashambuzi (Chief Technical Advisor at the Ministry of energy and Mineral development).
They form the basis for the February 1, 2022 Kololo Announcement.
President Yoweri Museveni recalls that a few days after capturing power in 1986, a team from Shell VP approached him to sign an oil agreement.
“Thy said there is oil in Lake Albert. That they were about to sign with the previous (collapsed government). That they are now here to sign with me. “Okay,” Museveni recalled yesterday, “let me check with the government whether there is anybody who knows something about petroleum. So, I called the people at the ministry of Energy and I said, do you have anybody who knows anything about petroleum? They said yes. Bring him for me, I said. The man, a Ghanaian from Accra, was an economist at Bank of Uganda, not a scientist. The only thing he was doing with oil is that he was the one who was handling import papers of oil into Uganda. So, I called the Shell VP people and I said, I have nobody on my side who knows anything about oil, so please, go away, and let me first prepare myself. I can’t sign an agreement with you because I don’t have anybody on my side who knows anything about oil,” Museveni said yesterday as participants listened carefully.
Calls Energy Minister, Chango Macho w’Obanda (RIP)
From there, Museveni phoned the then Energy Minister Chango Macho w’Obanda.
“I told him. Look for young people who have done geology, chemistry or physics at Makerere (that time Makerere was the only University) and let them go for specialized studies in Petroleum then we can come and engage these Shell VP people,” Museveni noted. “The ministry moved fast and got the Kabagambes, Kashambuzis and sent them for Masters in London, Romania, Algeria and the Netherlands, etc,” Museveni added.
Kabagambe Kaliisa, Kashambuzi, Rubondo & Kasande
In a meeting held on Monday February 10, 1986 at the State House, Entebbe at 10am, Museveni gave three policy directives. Dr. Kabagambe recalls that the President directed that the Ministry trains people in oil and gas disciplines, carryout petroleum exploration promotion by carryout work and inviting oil companies to participate in the exploration and monitor the work of oil companies.
So, after this, the Kabagambes were sent for Masters.
Dr. Kabagambe was the first to go. He went to Aberdeen University between 1986 and 1987.
Kashambuzi was next. He went to Imperial College, Londaon between 1986 and 1987). These were followed by Rubondo who went to Imperial College between 1989 and 1990 while Kasande was the last to go for Masters in petroleum related discipline between 1992 and 1995 at the University of Texas, United State of America.
“This is a decision that I took because I didn’t see how I could allow Uganda to be involved in something like this with ignorant people on my side,” Museveni said.
Kabagambe Kaliisa, Kashambuzi, Rubondo & Kasande return
Upon their return, Museveni was let known. The President now invited Shell VP people to return for discussion on the earlier proposed agreement.
But Museveni reveals that “Shell VP said they were no longer interested because oil had evaporated and went away and so was likely not to be there”
I said okay, “bye-bye”
In early 2000, the Kabagambes started a search for oil in Lake Albert.
They carried out geology mapping to identify various rock types in order to determine whether the rocks held/stored oil, if it generated or if it stored it. This is where Rubondo discovered a rock that stores oil at Kibiru while Kasande discovered a rock that hosts oil in Kibuku. This was the Kasande Commission, Dr. Kabagambe recalls.
The team also carried out a geophysical survey in order to find out if there were structures underground that had potential to store oil and in 2003, the team was able to draw out a map that identified over 20 structures which had potential to store oil and in deed, when government invited oil companies to come and look at the structures, they actually found there oil.
In 2006, Museveni announced that Uganda had discovered oil after years of exploration.
Reports show that the Albertine region has approximately 6.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, with at least 1. 4 billion estimated to be economically recoverable.
With the FID announcement, Uganda’s first oil is expected to flow out of the ground by 2025.
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