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Uganda's EITI membership set to boost investment climate ahead of first oil

Highlights

Transparency initiative seen attracting more capital

Total upbeat on Uganda's EITI membership

Lake Albert oil project still waiting for FID

Kampala — Uganda has officially joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in a move that is expected to boost the country's standing as a destination for foreign investment as it develops its nascent oil and gas sector and other natural resources.

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Uganda has become the 54th member of the organization and the 26th in Africa, EITI said in a statement late Aug 12, which will require Uganda to publicly disclose information such as contracts, beneficial owners, revenues and payments, including payments related to the environment.

Uganda decided to join the EITI in January 2019 and submitted an application in July 2020.

Uganda's delayed Lake Albert oil development holds 1.7 billion barrels of commercially viable crude. Total and CNOOC are preparing to make a final investment decision on the project that will include building a 1,445 km crude export pipeline from Hoima near the border to the port Tanga in Tanzania. Uganda's other main resources include iron ore, gold, copper, cobalt, and limestone.

"The decision to join the EITI was informed by the appreciation of the value of transparency as we progress our plans to develop Uganda's natural resource wealth," Uganda's finance minister Matia Kasaija said in a statement. "We believe that this initiative has the potential to strengthen tax collection, improve the investment climate, build trust among sector stakeholders and help create lasting value from our mineral and petroleum resources."

Total, a founding member of the EITI internationally and the operator of the Lake Albert oil development, said it fully supports Uganda committing to the EITI.

"We look forward to working with government, industry and civil society partners to support EITI implementation through participation in Uganda's Multi-Stakeholder Group," said Total E&P Uganda's General Manager Pierre Jessua.

The go-ahead for the Lake Albert oil development has been delayed for years, in part due to a long-running dispute over tax and fiscal terms with the government.

Total agreed last month to buy out the Ugandan assets of troubled Tullow Oil in a $575 million deal that cleared up a tax dispute with the government hanging over the country's maiden oil project. The companies had been waiting on the deal to kickstart the $20 billion oil development, which includes drilling of over 500 wells to produce 230,000 b/d. Total is hoping to take a final investment decision on the project in the next 12 months.