In a startling revelation, the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) finds itself embroiled in a controversial saga following the defense of its Kenyan branch registration.
Disputes and alarm bells rang through the corridors of power when it was alleged that certain individuals, both Ugandan and Kenyan, were behind the Kenyan registration process, contrary to the official stance upheld by the company.
Speaking vehemently in defense, Sarah Banage, UNOC’s head of Corporate Affairs, emphasized the necessity of compliance with cross-border regulations, citing the imperative need to fortify petroleum importation protocols.
This, she asserted, aligns with the government’s strategic agenda to fortify the security of petroleum supply chains, a crucial facet in bolstering the nation’s energy infrastructure.
However, sparks flew within Parliament as Emmanuel Otaala, the Natural Resources Committee Chairperson, expressed profound apprehension.
Otaala’s concerns stemmed from the potential ramifications of these individuals snatching the lucrative fuel importation business, contrary to the government’s intention of assigning this pivotal role to UNOC.
Unfolding this convoluted affair, intricate details surfaced regarding the ownership structure of UNOC, casting shadows on its supposed sole ownership by the Ugandan government.
Reports surfaced, pointing to the involvement of influential figures including Irene Pauline Bateebe, Uganda’s current Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, and Malachi Omolloh Adedeh, a prominent Kenyan lawyer and CEO of Liroja Services.
Amidst this intrigue, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) raised red flags, rejecting UNOC’s bid to directly import fuel through Kenya’s pipelines.
Sources intimate that UNOC’s Kenyan branch registration was a strategic maneuver to fulfill EPRA’s stringent criteria, part of an orchestrated effort to secure the much-coveted license for fuel imports.
Further complicating matters, Energy Minister Ruth Nankabiriwa’s unveiling of the Petroleum Supply (Amendment) Bill, 2023 before parliament added fuel to the fire. The Bill, if ratified, would mandate UNOC to monopolize the importation of petroleum products for the Ugandan market, much to the chagrin of existing players.
President Yoweri Museveni’s endorsement of a five-year deal with Vitol Bahrain E.C., aimed at curbing middlemen in the importation supply chain, added a political layer to the drama.
Museveni’s fervent advocacy for direct imports fueled the already intense debate surrounding UNOC’s expanding role and the ongoing controversies in Kenya.
Amidst these turbulences, Uganda’s potential shift towards sourcing fuel through Tanzania emerged, with Energy Minister Nankabirwa leading a delegation to explore alternative supply routes.
Meetings with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan hinted at a potential policy overhaul in Uganda’s petroleum importation strategy, adding yet another twist to this intricate tale.
As this multifaceted saga continues to unravel, Uganda’s oil industry stands at a crossroads, facing unprecedented challenges and the looming specter of transformation in its importation policies.
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