London based civil society campaigner, Global witness has tightened opposition against the government of Uganda’s decision to issue Oil Exploration licences for blocks within Lake Albert and surrounding areas.
In a latest animated ‘call-for-action’ campaign video, Global witness highlights the level of environmental damage and social-economic risks associated with oil exploration activities in the smallest of the African Great Lakes.
“Any oil activities in this area could lead to significant damage to the lake, the broader ecosystem and the people and animals that depend on it,” Reads the statement.
The tight campaign follows earlier announcement that seven companies submitted bids for the First Competitive Oil Exploration Licencing round in Uganda. Global witness contested all the blocks with emphasis on a one Ngaji block.
“All of the oil blocks in the current licencing round overlap with environmentally protected areas, but one, the Ngaji block, is of particular concern. This area covers half of Lake Edward and large part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and forms part of the same ecosystem as Virunga – Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site” global witness said.
The Ngaji block, is about 895 Km2 between the Uganda’s South western districts of Rukungiri and Kanungu.
Meanwhile the Seven oil companies that submitted bids shied away from the Ngaji block according to officials from Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Acting commissioner in charge of Exploration in the Directorate of Petroleum in Uganda said the development arose to the smear campaign by civil society organisations.
“There was a lot of smear campaigns by various environmental groups [like Global Witness] and we think it was part of the reason.”
The environmentalist says both governments sharing the borderline of this environmentally sensitive area including Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo must work towards making lake Albert a no go area for Extractives.
“We are calling on UNESCO and the governments of DRC and Uganda to negotiate a no-go area for extractives around Lake Edward” Global witness said.