Uganda signed an agreement with an international consortium of energy industry investors to build a long-delayed oil refinery, according to an official statement.
The consortium — a partnership of four Italian and Mauritian companies including Nuovo Pignone International owned by US-giant General Electric — agreed to build and operate the refinery near Hoima on the shores of Lake Albert which seperates Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Museveni said the deal with the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium — valued at between $3 billion and $4 billion — would contribute to making Africa “a huge powerhouse in terms of business.”
Once complete the facility will eventually have the capacity to refine 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day — much of which will be sent to the capital Kampala via pipeline.
Two previous attempts to finalise a refinery deal collapsed.
Oil was discovered in the environmentally sensitive Albertine Graben in 2006, raising hopes of an economic boost in one of the world’s poorest countries, but the exploration and extraction processes have been beset by long delays.
The government aim to have oil flowing by 2020 but many analysts view that as overly ambitious for a project already tainted by murky payments for government officials.
Of the 6.5 billion barrels of oil discovered below and around Lake Albert about 1.5 billion are easily recoverable.
The majority of the viscous crude will by-pass the planned refinery to be exported to the Indian Ocean port of Tanga in Tanzania via the world’s longest heated pipeline.