NEMA Board inspects Albertine Graben

The NEMA Board of Directors have concluded a successful inspection of the Albertine graben. The weeklong activity from January 14 -18, 2019 saw the Board of Directors led by the chairperson, Prof. Tikodri Togboa and vice-chairperson Dr. Priscilla Nyadoi alongside other board members and NEMA staff traverse the highly sensitive region where most of the current Oil & Gas operations are taking place.

It is the most species rich eco-region for vertebrates in Africa. It harbors more endemic species than any region in Africa and also contains 79 threatened species of terrestrial vertebrates and it is the number one destination for tourism in Uganda.
The Oil and Gas sector is currently advancing into the production phase that is expected to come along with several developments.

The visit to the Ablertine Graben enabled the board to asses key environmental challenges facing the country, provide guidance to partners in local governments, the indigenous and local communities, civil society and the private sector. The field visit covered the districts of Masindi, Hoima, Buliisa and Nwoya; and the board was able to interact with district leaders, community members and relevant stakeholders in the oil industry.

The board was able to; assess the impacts of oil and gas development activities on the state of environment in the Albertine Graben; review the key interventions by NEMA and other stakeholders and engage with district leaders and other stakeholders on matters relating to Environment & Natural Resources management in the region.

The following sites were visited;

Resettlement Houses
This was a culmination of the land acquisition process which was guided by a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) study to provide a framework for the compensation and resettlement of the project affected persons and provide mechanisms through which any impacts of the resettlement could be mitigated. A total of forty-six (46) houses were constructed in Kyakaboga Parish, Buseruka Sub-county Hoima District to be occupied by eligible households, who opted for resettlement during the land acquisition process for the refinery and other petroleum infrastructure.

Industrial Area and Kabaale International Airport
The 29.57 square kilometers of land in Kabaale will host the Refinery, an International airport, Petrochemical Industries together with crude oil storage, logistics and warehousing. The master plan and detailed design for Kabaale International airport including the ESIA have since been reviewed and approved by NEMA and construction work is ongoing. Other infrastructure to be constructed in the industrial area shall be required to undertake separate ESIA studies as advised by NEMA.

Nyamasoga Waste Treatment Plant (Enviro-Serve)
The waste treatment and disposal facility is located in Hoima District. It is the first engineered landfill in the country and was established to treat waste generated from the oil appraisal wells in the Albertine Graben, during the exploration phase.

Ngege-1 (Partially Restored Site)
The well was drilled by TUOP in 2009 and was partially restored leaving only the access road and the fenced off wellhead with firebreak of 10x10m. The site has since recovered impressively and cannot easily be distinguished from the surrounding areas. There has been continuous monitoring by NEMA, UWA and the oil companies to ensure that the site recovers accordingly.

Recommendation by the Oil and Gas multi-sectoral monitoring team following the last onsite visit was that the site could be considered as a model for partial restoration.

Mpyo-5 (Restored Site)
The appraisal well was drilled within the course of a seasonal stream that was diverted to flow along the pad edges. After restoration the diversion was left in place but a lot of erosion was observed along the diversion. The well area has however gained stability and thick vegetation has grown within the pad area.
Following several compliance inspections NEMA recommended that the point of approach by the seasonal stream is observed for a while longer; to rule out more effects of erosion effects over time with the stream re-establishing its original path of flow.

Murchison Falls Albert Delta Ramsar Site
Part of the Tilenga project components will be located in the Albert Delta Ramsar site on the southern and Northern banks of the Nile. The proposed Jobi-riii 10 wellpad, HDD working area and the stringing area will have tremendous effects on the environment in this area given its characteristics.

NEMA held consultations with the Ramsar Secretariat and the Ramsar Mission in October, 2018; in regard to the matter, including a Rapid Physical Assessment of the proposed area to harmonize the findings with what was presented in the Tilelnga ESIA and the recommendations will be used to inform the final decision on the project.

Tangi Camp
This is one of the Tilenga development project components. The camp was previously used during exploration by TOUP however, this was handed over to TEPU which intends to expand the camp to accommodate more people and equipment during the production phase since it will be used as a material supply base. Once expanded, the camp will occupy the elephant corridor in one direction and railway land on the other.
NEMA has had consultations with UWA regarding interference with the animal corridor and with Uganda Railway Cooperation in relation to the railway land. Recommendations from the consultations will be used to inform the final decision on the Tilenga Project developments.

Masindi Paraa Road via Kichumbanyobo gate (Oil Road)
This was previously approved for upgrade as a tourism road however, with the oil and gas develop pments in the park, the oil companies found it suitable to use the road for logistical movements. It has been marked as one of the oil roads and certificate of approval was issued by NEMA to start construction. The road passes through a forest whose trees form a canopy used by chimpanzees to cross the road. NEMA and UWA have advised the road construction company to maintain specific dimensions within the forest to protect the canopy.

Tony Achidria
Senior Public Relations Officer