BUNYORO – China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Uganda has stepped out with projects aimed at preparing Bunyoro kingdom subjects to tap into opportunities created by the oil and gas sector.
While the discovery of oil in the Albertine region has raised fears of a likely resource curse, government and oil companies are putting in place strategies to mitigate the negative impacts associated with the industry.
Last week, CNOOC in partnership with Bunyoro Kitara kingdom launched a training campaign for the heavy goods truck drivers as one way of preparing them for the oil and gas opportunities.
CNOOC is taking the Kingfisher oil field in Buhuka parish, Kyangwali sub-county in Kikuube district onshore of Lake Albert.
Kingfisher field development area is spread over approximately 344km2 in the Lake Albert Rift Basin in Western Uganda. The oil field is situated on the Eastern bank of Lake Albert, which acts as a border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was discovered by the Kingfisher-1 wildcat well in 2006.
Speaking during the launch at the Kingdom administration offices, Mathew Kyaligonza, the National Content Manager, CNOOC Uganda said, the training program was initiated following an extensive industrial baseline survey which was conducted to determine and align potential planned projects for goods and services within the Ugandan market.
He explained that the survey highlighted 100,000 to 150,000 direct and indirect jobs that will be created during the production phase of the oil and gas.
He added that it found out that the oil and gas sector will need 2,500 skilled drivers and these skilled drivers are not available.
He says, these opportunities are the reason why the oil company has initiated training of drivers in the region to position the Kingdom subjects to grab the opportunities.
According to him, the training will benefit 70 drivers and the training will take three months.
The beneficiaries will be equipped with driving skills which will allow them to operate beyond the East Africa region.
“The participants will learn key issues in dealing with heavy goods vehicles’ driving in accordance with East African Community curriculum,” he explained.
More than 86 people applied for the training but only 70 qualified and this training will be conducted every year. The training will be conducted by Uganda Driving Standards Agency.
While launching the campaign, Kingdom Prime Minister, Andrew Byakutaga Ateenyi commended CNOOC Uganda for the initiative adding that there is still need to prepare the Kingdom subjects for the upcoming oil and gas opportunities.
He noted that the discovery of oil and gas has created a lot of excitement and anxiety adding that many people are flocking the kingdom hunting for opportunities in the petroleum sector.
“Almost daily, the kingdom receives people inquiring about available opportunities in the oil sector and I am happy that some of the inquiries are being answered with this training which we are launching today.”
Byakutaga says, the issues of local content are still lacking, adding that there is a need for concerted effort to address this challenge, if the kingdom subjects are to benefit from the sector.
“The national oil and gas policy provides an elaborate way through which Ugandans can benefit from the local content in the oil sector; we are pleased that the government has gone ahead to create guidelines for implementation of oil and gas policy, and the government has also passed laws to govern the sector,” he said.
He also said, the challenge is implementing the local content policy and regulation to enable people to benefit from the sector.
According to him, this calls for concerted effort from every one. “People need training to be prepared to produce required goods and services and their capacity to be developed to match with the oil and gas standards, the more we delay the more we lose opportunities.”
Apollo John Rwamparo, the Bunyoro Kitara kingdom Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, called on the oil companies to come up with a program of preparing the business communities in the region for the sector.
He says, the kingdom subjects owning businesses are missing out on several oil and gas opportunities because they lack information on how to join and tap in the sector.
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