Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Uganda's oil discovery foments disputes

Vast reserves of oil discovered in western Uganda have sparked widespread conflict over land ownership with ethnic groups in the region vying for a share in the wealth. Uganda's energy ministry says that 6bn barrels of oil have so far been measured in the Bunyoro area, placing the country on the same footing as neighbouring Sudan, with the fifth-largest proven oil reserves in Africa.

Developer TULLOW OIL, an Irish-based independent, is reportedly looking for partners to exploit the field and build a pipeline to Mombasa, Kenya, for exports. Tribal disputes have largely occurred between the indigenous Banyoro tribe and the recently settled Bakiga from Rwanda, although historically their roots can be traced back to the region. At the heart of current tensions lies a dispute over whether or not the Bakiga settled in the region legally, and the issue of land ownership, which has coloured the history of the two tribes in the region for many years.