EAC to develop common energy policy

THE East African Community (EAC) is set to develop a common energy policy to be backed with a protocol that will define the regional framework to support the development of the sector.

This was said recently by the Uganda Vice-President, Jessica Alupo, at the occasion to officially open the 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition 2023, themed East Africa as a hub for Investment in Exploration and Exploitation of Petroleum Resources for Sustainable Energy and Socioeconomic Development.

VP Alupo, who represented the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, disclosed that the EAC region was cognisant of the threats posed by climate change and that the region supports measures aimed at protecting the environment.

According to the Vice-President, the global push for energy transition is coming at a time when the East African region has established significant petroleum projects that can greatly contribute to the economies of the region.

Ms Alupo said that in order to utilise these resources and those that might be discovered in the future, the EAC had developed a regional strategy on refineries development in 2008.

“The strategy addresses the development of refineries and other infrastructure required to enhance storage and distribution of petroleum products in the region,” she added.

The VP said that the biannual conference and exhibition was one way of promoting the petroleum potential and investment opportunities in the oil and gas sector in the region.

“Currently there are only 37 international oil and gas companies licensed to carry out petroleum prospecting in the region. I, therefore, urge local and international companies to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector,” she said.

Ms Alupo further disclosed that the region was set to develop a common energy policy to be backed with a protocol that will define the regional framework to support the development of the sector.

On her part, Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Petroleum Development, Dr Ruth Ssentamu, said that energy access and security were key aspirations for the region, adding that there is need to explore all the available energy resources.

“Energy is an important factor for the development of any economy, without energy we cannot attain the intended goals of integration,” said Dr Sentamu.

Dr Ssentamu said that in developing her oil and gas project, Uganda has adopted a regional outlook, taking into account what the region can achieve by working together.

“Uganda has extended invitations to the EAC Partner States to join in the development of the refinery which will go a long way in guaranteeing petroleum products security for the region,” she said.

The minister further disclosed that in addition to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project being implemented by Uganda and Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had commenced bilateral talks to establish modalities of sharing infrastructure as both countries develop the oil and gas sector.

Addressing the more than 1,000 delegates attending the conference, the EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki, observed that a few years ago, the East African region did not attract significant investments in the oil and gas sector but today, the region had benefited from advances in technology and management of exploration and production, which has led to the discovery of commercially viable oil and gas deposits.

“The discoveries in the region are very impressive; Uganda has 6.5 billion barrels and Kenya has 750 million barrels of oil reserves discovered and more than 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Tanzania, exports of crude oil from South Sudan and the signs of oil and gas prospects in Burundi and Rwanda where they are undertaking exploration,” said Dr Mathuki.

Dr Mathuki said that despite the effects of fluctuating global oil prices, the economies in the region have been able to withstand the shocks, adding that their continued growth is a testimony to the resilience of the regional economy.

“This stability offers long term prospects for returns on investments to potential investors, irrespective of any head winds the global economy may encounter,” said Dr Mathuki.

Delivering the keynote address, the former Chairperson of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Dr Elly Karuhanga, celebrated East Africa as an exciting part of the world and home to the world’s largest deposits of natural resources.

Dr Karuhanga said that the time had come for the region to translate these resources for the prosperity of the region.

“The potential for the region gives us so much to do, we must therefore unleash our full potential and devise practical solutions as we embark on the sustainable development of the oil and gas sector,” said Dr Karuhanga.

The 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition 2023 is being attended by Ministers in charge of the sectors in the Partner States; Members of National Parliaments; Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Development Partners, and; investors in the Petroleum Sector from the region and beyond.

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