Uganda says no to crude oil export

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Uganda, the world’s newest oil frontier, has no plans to export crude oil until the black gold is refined and sold as a finished produc t to create better economic opportunities, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said in Kampala on Monday.

In one of the toughest stances from an untested oil producing country, Uganda’s President said his country would strive to export refined oil to effectively dismantle the oil refining cartels, mostly operated by rich European drilling entities.

Speaking in Kampala at a conference of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), bringing together business leaders from across the 57-member states, President Museveni said Uganda’s oil would be processed and refined in the country.

“Uganda will not export any crude oil. We must drill it and process it before ex porting it. If anyone wants to help us develop, they should come and help us by setting up a refinery here,” Museveni, an advocate of Africa’s homegrown development policies, said.

Canadian oil exploration firm, Heritage Oil, has struck commercial quantities of oil in Uganda, near its common border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Canadian firm, which has been taking an interest in similar ventures in Kenya, has identified a site for the building of a potential oil refinery.

Uganda, without a port of its own, might never export its oil easily unless efforts are made to create an outlet soon, to export the refined commodity through either Kenya or Tanzania, both neighbours.

United Kingdom’s Tullow Oil was the latest oil exploration firm to strike oil in Lake Albert Rift Basin. The UK-based firm also discovered natural gas wells in Lake Albert.

Uganda is set to record its first major drilling operation in 2009 for a potential 250 million barrels of oil, which could be produced in June, 2009.

President Museveni said Uganda would not bow to pressure from international companies to export Uganda’s own crude oil, saying this would result in lost revenue.

African countries have been forced to close down domestic oil refineries with multinational oil retail companies telling them that it becomes much more expensive to refine the commodities in the continent, hence increasing the cost of the product.

“We will not lose our revenue to processing firms in Europe as Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries are doing,” President Museveni said. Panapress .

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