Ruth Nankabirwa, Uganda’s new Minister of Energy, wants to accelerate the schedule to first oil from TotalEnergies’ Tilenga and CNOOC International’s Kingfisher oilfields.

Just a day after being handed the oil and gas portfolio by President Yoweri Museveni, Nankabirwa set out what she wants to achieve during her tenure, stressing that the country's multi-billion-dollar upstream schemes must not be delayed, and should ideally be accelerated.

Speaking at Uganda’s 7th Annual Oil & Gas Convention on 23 June — organised by the Uganda Chamber of Mines & Petroleum — Nankabirwa said: “I will put my energy to making sure we push (ahead) and beat time frames. We have to deliver.”

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She stressed that one of her key goals will be to ensure social issues related to land acquisition and population displacement do not hold up the project timeline that currently foresees first oil flowing in early 2025.

'I am a good mobiliser'

“Some of the projects involve disrupting the population, but I am a good mobiliser. I will sit down with the people to make sure that we are not delayed (because) information has not been laid out properly to the people, and to tell them the social benefits (of the projects) to themselves and their country," she said.

Nankabirwa also raised to possibility that changes to legislation underpinning the oil projects could be evaluated, if necessary.

“I know that (projects do not happen) without putting in place regulations, policies and laws. And that is going to be my work. Whether we need amendments to whatever legislation has been done, I will be able to do it.”

Social media restraint

Also speaking at the convention was Uganda’s new Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, who said: “It’s extremely important that we manage the affairs of the oil and gas sector in responsible and sustainable manner.”

Kiwanuka, added that it behoves project participants “to put all our boots on the ground, understand the industry and develop it sustainably".

The attorney general also “cautioned” people to “measure” the comments they make on social media when it comes the “sensitive” oil and gas sector.

“I am calling on the public, that if you have any questions please ask (the government authorities). Let us sing from the same hymn book and be sure we are sending out the correct message to the whole world.”

Kiwanuka's remarks come as many anti-fossil fuel campaign groups and individuals have called on social media for the Tilenga-Kingfisher projects — and the associated refinery and oil pipeline through Tanzania — to be mothballed due to climate, environmental and social concerns.

Before being appointed attorney general on 8 June, Kiwanuku was deputy attorney general.

He also sits on the board of The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the oil and gas regulator.