Why Uganda won’t think about exporting its gas just as yet

While a lot continues to be said about the oil that Uganda is yet to drill, little has been said about the potential of the Natural Gas Reserves that lie with the 3.5 million barrels of oil in the Albertine Region.


It has been reported that for now, the Uganda government plans to use the current gas reservoirs for the generation of large scale electricity supply to add to the current power supply of 504 megawatts.


Honey Malinga, the assistant commissioner-Geophysics, at the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD), recently was reported saying that plans were in advanced stages to ensure that the resource is optimally extracted and utilised.


But Uganda has just not thought about exporting this gas. Probably the government still looks at the reserves as those that are yet to reach the capacity that necessitates production for exportation.


“The amount of gas reserves is not yet ascertained because appraisal of the discoveries is still on-going but we have about 93 billion cubic feet of non–associated gas from the fields of Nzizi, Ngiri, Kasamene, Kigogole, Ngege, Jobi-Rii, Ngassa, Nsoga and Jobi East,” Honey Malinga said.


According to Malinga the available associated gas could amount to about 192 million standard cubic feet – located in fields like Mputa, Waraga, Kingfisher and Nzizi.


Other wells including Kasamene, Kigogole, Nsoga, Wairhindi, Ngara, Lyec, Mpyo, Gunya, Ngiri, Jobi-Rii and Jobi-East have also been found to have some embedments of natural gas.


“The amount of gas reservoirs may increase if the exploration companies make more discoveries. However, we are working on some of the fields to establish the type of gas contained therein,” says Malinga


Malinga says the current findings are not final, since only a fraction of the entire Albertine stretch has been appraised while more discoveries were in offing, and more so, after the open flaring (burning off) practice was banned.


Only 40 percent of the Albertine Graben has been explored and appraised so far which implies that more gas discoveries are yet to be found.

Gas is a natural hydrocarbon mixture of methane [good as a fuel component], ethane, butane, propane, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.


In hydrocarbon rich grounds like the Albertine Graben stretch, where oil exploration is taking shape, the presence of natural gas is high and is usually found in the natural rock formations along with underground water and oil.

When natural gas is refined it produces Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG); all used differently for domestic purposes like cooking, heating and automobile fuel.


In an ideal reservoir there are two types of gas resources; associated (dissolved and gas cap) and non-associated gas (sometimes referred to as free gas), however most of Uganda’s discoveries is associated gas – located at the tip or within oil fields.


Much as government has not expressed any interest to export any of its gas resource, there is likely competition from countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, all in the East African region, which are currently a hub for gas exploration.


According to the Oil & Gas Journal, proved reserves of natural gas in Africa are estimated at around 14 tcm, as of January 1, 2012. Africa’s gas reserves are about 7.5 per cent of the world’s total. Technically recoverable reserves of natural gas in Africa are substantially higher, estimated at about 74 tcm, almost 10 per cent of the world’s total. Africa’s proved gas reserves are highly concentrated, with four countries — Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Libya — accounting for more than 92 per cent of the continent’s total.


Africa’s gas production reached about 203 bcm in 2011, with production led by Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria, collectively accounting for more than 88 per cent of the continent’s total. Gas production in Africa since 2000 has been growing by about 4 per cent per year. African natural gas consumption is estimated to have been about 110 bcm in 2011, with Egypt and Algeria leading consumption totals.


The collective investments Uganda has made in oil and gas explorations since 1998 to date are estimated to be $1.7 billion.

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