Uganda has recoverable oil reserves estimated at more than 1.4 billion barrels. As exploration work continues, this figure could substantially increase. Additionally, reserves of 500 billion cubic feet of gas hold the promise of electricity generation and the production of liquefied natural gas.

Partnering with O&G companies

To begin producing oil at Uganda’s Lake Albert, the international energy companies that are part of Lake Albert Development Group are looking at what it will take to haul equipment and supplies inland from the nearest ports, which are at least 2,000 km away in Kenya and Tanzania.

Agility, which has oil and gas expertise globally and regional expertise in Houston, Aberdeen, Dubai and Singapore, meets regularly with the consortium companies Tullow Oil, Total and CNOOC. The idea is to help them find answers to such questions as what should move by road and what by air, what should be containerized versus breakbulk, and how to support and sustain a complex drilling project over a long period.

As part of that effort, Agility has met with the group to discuss the challenges the members confront and to show best practices that Agility has developed elsewhere:

  • Planning of moves that involve environmental and cultural sensitivities, as with massive natural projects in Papua New Guinea and Australia.
  • Preparation of route surveys in remote and isolated areas, such as Central Asia.
  • Development of safety programs and driver training academies like those in the Middle East.
  • Safe transport of crude and finished products modeled after work for other demanding energy customers and for NGOs.
  • Shipment of out-of-gauge and breakbulk material requiring aviation and ground-handling expertise.
  • Construction, maintenance and operation of home-away-from-home camps, along the lines of those in harsh environments in the Middle East and Indonesia.
  • Development of local talent and identification of reliable local suppliers and vendors.

The Lake Albert project stands to benefit from a much-needed transportation park that Agility is developing in the Ugandan town of Busia on the border with Kenya. Plans originally called for a simple parking lot for trucks. Agility proposed a more ambitious facility that would contain offices for the Uganda Revenue Authority, inspection bays, bonded warehousing, open-yard storage for oil-and-gas equipment and pipes, a commercial building and a fuel station. Groundbreaking took place in June 2014.

Facilities maintenance

Two of the toughest obstacles for the international energy companies moving into East Africa are establishment of camp services and hiring of local talent.

One company turned to Agility’s GCC Services in 2012 for facilities management at offices and residences in the capital of Kampala, facilities at Entebbe International Airport, and field locations in and around drilling sites. The job included full camp and field maintenance in Kisiinja and Bulisa.

The company needed skilled workers – electrical, civil, maintenance – hired from the local population. Agility GCC Services was able to find individuals with the right expertise, but most lacked the international certifications that the customer required because certification was unobtainable in Uganda. GCC Services and its customer worked on an extensive training and knowledge-transfer program to get local maintenance teams certified. In the meantime, GCC Services Uganda has been ISO 9001 certified and aims soon to be ISO 14001 certified.

GCC Services is now upgrading the camp to transform existing camps at Bulisa and Kisiinja into more comfortable, efficient ones. Working with a local construction firm, GCC Services helped the oil company procure as many services as possibly locally. GCC Services buys 98% of its materials in Uganda.