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Last Updated: April 2016


Map of Uganda
Map of Uganda
  • Uganda does not produce hydrocarbons currently, but after discovering oil ten years ago, the country is expected to start producing oil within the next decade. Commercial oil production is expected to start at the earliest in 2020 but most likely beyond this period. The production start date has been pushed back several times in the past. Contractual and tax disputes, differences between the Ugandan government and international investors over the portion of oil production to be exported versus refined locally, and disagreements over the export pipeline route have all contributed to a later-than-expected production start date. Sustained low global oil prices have also contributed to delays.

Petroleum and other liquids

  • The first commercial oil discovery in Uganda was made in the Albertine Graben area in 2006. Since then, successful well appraisals have boosted Uganda's proved crude oil reserves from zero in 2010 to 2.5 billion barrels as of the end of 2015, according to the Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ). The Ugandan government estimates that the Albertine Graben area contains 6.5 billion barrels of oil in place. Proved natural gas reserves were estimated at 500 billion cubic feet as of the end of 2015, according to OGJ.
  • The UK-based Tullow, Paris-based Total, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) are leading oil exploration and development activities in the Albertine Graben blocks. Total operates Exploration Area 1 (EA-1) and EA-1A, Tullow operates EA-2, and CNOOC operates the Kingfisher Production License.
  • The Ugandan government has not yet approved the development plans submitted by Tullow and Total and has only granted one production license to CNOOC to develop the Kingfisher field. The Ugandan government and the international oil companies (IOCs) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in February 2014 for a broad plan to develop the fields in the Albertine Graben area, fuel a refinery, and construct a crude oil export pipeline via Kenya.
  • The three companies are targeting gross oil production of more than 200,000 barrels per day (b/d), according to Tullow. IOCs plan to make a final investment decision, which includes developing the resources and building an export pipeline, sometime in 2017, but it may be pushed back if an export pipeline route is not chosen.
  • Currently, it is unclear which pipeline route will be chosen. In August 2015, Uganda and Kenya had reached an agreement on the export pipeline route. The pipeline, estimated to cost $4.5 billion, would carry crude oil from Uganda and Kenya, travelling initially from Uganda's western Albertine Graben area to northern Kenya (at its prospective oil fields) to Kenya's currently undeveloped northern Lamu Port. However, in October 2015, Uganda announced that it was in talks with Tanzania to potentially build a pipeline to Tanzania's coastal port city of Tanga. The Uganda-Tanzania pipeline is estimated to cost $4 billion. Because only Ugandan oil would be transported through the route to Tanzania, it's unlikely that pipeline costs will be shared similar to the proposed Kenya route.
  • Total has reportedly expressed security concerns over the potential Kenya pipeline route, which helped to prompt Uganda's pivot to Tanzania. However, Tullow has expressed strong desire to resume the original route via Kenya because Tullow is the lead company developing Kenya's oil resources, which could be transported through that same pipeline.
  • A consortium led by Russia's RT Global Resources, a subsidiary of Rostec, was chosen to build a refinery in Hoima, along with a petroleum product pipeline and associated infrastructure. RT Global's refinery project in Uganda is not subject to the most recent enacted U.S. sanctions, and the company may access long-term borrowing because the project is outside of Russia. The refinery, estimated to cost $3 billion, is expected to first process 30,000 b/d of crude oil, and later increase to 60,000 b/d.
  • In 2015, Uganda launched its first licensing round to bid six blocks in the Lake Albert and Lake Edward areas. Although 16 companies pre-qualified for the round, only 6 small companies actually submitted bids for the blocks. The six blocks, four of which have noncommercial oil discoveries, were previously explored and ceded by CNOOC, Tullow, and Total, according to the Energy Intelligence Group. Global and local organizations have requested that the Ngaji block not be explored because of its proximity to national parks.
  • In 2015, the country consumed 20,000 b/d of petroleum and other liquids. Uganda imports petroleum products by trucks via Kenya because it is landlocked. Kenya and Uganda plan to extend the Kenyan Nairobi-to-Eldoret oil product pipeline to Kampala, Uganda's capital city.


  • According to the International Energy Agency's latest 2013 data, 55% of Uganda's population living in urban areas has access to electricity; while a mere 7% of the rural population has access to electricity. Electricity net generation in Uganda was 3.9 billion kilowatthours (KWh) in 2013, of which 2.9 billion KWh was from hydroelectricity, 1 billion KWh from fossil-fuel sources, and a small amount from modern biomass and waste. The vast majority of the population, particularly in rural areas, relies on traditional biomass and waste (typically consisting of wood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues) for household heating and cooking.