Uganda plans to join OPEC after first oil fields flow in 2020: minister

Kampala (Platts)--27 Sep 2017 919 am EDT/1319 GMT

Uganda will seek to join OPEC once the East African nation starts pumping crude out from Lake Albert oil fields along the western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of the decade, Uganda's energy and minerals minister Irene Muloni said Wednesday.

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The Ugandan government took the decision to join OPEC after consultations with other existing member states, including Equatorial Guinea, Muloni told an oil and gas conference in Kampala.

"When we start producing our oil, we will join OPEC, to reap the benefits from being a member of the organization, these include stability of prices," she said. "We remain on course to deliver first oil in 2020."

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Uganda is hoping to start pumping as much as 200,000 b/d of crude in 2020 from its Lake Albert field, which could peak at 230,000 b/d in 2023, according to government estimates.

The project is dependent on the construction of an export pipeline via Tanzania, however, and most market watcher believe the 2020 start-up target is optimistic.

OPEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this year, Equatorial Guinea's oil minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima told S&P Global Platts that he had asked Uganda and Cameroon to consider joining OPEC's existing African contingent, as well as East African oil exporter South Sudan.

Floundering oil prices have in recent years been a key concern to the development of Uganda's crude fields, where France's Total, China's CNOOC and UK's Tullow Oil are investing some $8 billion in oil fields.

Overall, the partners are developing some 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Lake Albert Basin. The $3.5 billion planned export pipeline via Tanzania is expected to bring over 200,000 b/d of crude to the market from the project.

Under a 2012 farm-down deal, the operating responsibilities within the basin are equally divided, with Total, Tullow and CNOOC responsible for the EA-1, EA-2 and the EA-3 licenses respectively. CNOOC's EA-3 Block contains the large Kingfisher oil field, located at the southern tip of Lake Albert.

--Namala Doreen,
--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter,

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