International campaigner Global Witness has questioned the credibility of four of the companies on the short list released by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development last week as the government prepares to officially open the first competitive bidding round for six oil blocks this Friday.
Out of the 17 firms that applied, 16 have been shortlisted after their applications met the evaluation criteria as spelt out in the Request for Qualification document and will thus proceed to submit proposals.
The six blocks up for grabs include Ngassa (410 Km2) in Hoima District, Taitai & Karuka (565 Km2) in Buliisa District, Ngaji (895 Km2) in Rukungiri & Kanungu Districts, Mvule (344 Km2) in Moyo and Yumbe Districts, Turaco (425 Km2) and Kanywantaba (344 Km2) in Ntoroko District.
According to Global Witness, three of the companies, Africa Global Resources, Glint Energy LLC and Oranto Petroleum International Limited Nigeria need to be scrutinised further, noting that the fourth company, RT Global Resources, part of the consortium that won the refinery bid, has some of its leadership under sanctions.
Specifically, Global Witness notes that while Africa Global Resources is registered in the Cayman Islands, there is no public ownership information available on the company, making it difficult to know who would benefit if they won the rights to an oil block.
The American Glint Energy LLC also seems to have been inactive for some years before being reinstated on 16th July 2015. According to Global Witness, the company was initially incorporated on the 29th of May 2009 but was forfeited two years later on the 13th of May 2011 for failure to file a tax return and/or pay state franchise tax. The Campaigner questions whether the company has the requisite expertise to explore for oil given that there is no information that it owns an active oil license.
The third company, Oranto Petroleum International Limited from Nigeria, notes Global Witness, was involved in a bribery scandal in 2007. The company Chairman, Prince Arthur Eze, authorised a payment to Liberian Parliamentary officials which was deemed by the Liberian Auditor General to be a bribe paid in order to secure an oil contract.
Not a done deal
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development however told Oil in Uganda that although the shortlist was released, the companies on it were still being scrutinised and government would carry out its own independent analysis. Bashir Hangi, the Communications Officer at the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) said that these companies are analysed on the basis of the information they submit to be nominated, but that does not stop government from carrying out its own investigations. “It is still a process. No one can be awarded when due diligence has not been carried out on them,” he explained. “Government will do its own assessment and crosscheck before awarding anyone a contract.”
The 16 successful firms are:
African Exploration Venture (JV comprising of Rapid Africa Energy Pty Limited and Africa Energy SA Corp), South Africa
African Global Resources (JV comprising of Telconet Capital Limited, RT-Global Resources LLC and JSC Tatneft),Russia
Armour Energy Limited, Australia
Brightoil Petroleum (Uganda) Limited, Hong Kong/China
Glint Energy, LLC, USA
MDC Oil and Gas Holding Company, LLC, United Arab Emirates
Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Limited, Nigeria
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited, India
Oranto Petroleum International Limited, Nigeria
Petoil (Uganda) Limited, Turkey
Petrica Energy AS, Norway
Rift Energy Uganda Limited, Canada
SASOL Exploration and Production International Limited, South Africa
Swala Energy (Uganda) Limited, Australia
Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Limited, Ireland
Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Nigeria