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Uganda: Parliament Considering Petroleum Bill

(Feb. 10, 2012) On February 8, 2012, the Ugandan government tabled the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012, which, if enacted, will give effect to ยง 244 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (Text, Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Washington, D.C. website (last visited Feb. 9, 2012)) and replace the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1985 (LAWS OF UGANDA, Ch. 150, Uganda Oil and Gas Info website (last visited Feb. 9, 2012)). (Yasiin Mugerwa, Government Tables Oil Bill, THE MONITOR (Feb. 9, 2012).)

The bill is the first in a series that the government plans to table in Parliament in an attempt to modernize the country's legal framework governing the oil sector. Commercial hydrocarbon deposits were discovered in Uganda in 2006; two years later, in 2008, the government issued the National Oil and Gas Policy (NOGP). The NOGP calls for the review of existing laws and regulations that govern different aspects of the oil sector issued long before Uganda was poised to become an oil-producing nation. These laws and regulations include the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1985 and the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) (Conduct of Exploration Operations) Regulations, 1993 (Regulations text, Uganda Oil and Gas Info website (last visited Feb. 9, 2012)). Additional, related legislative proposals are expected. (NATIONAL OIL AND GAS POLICY FOR UGANDA (Feb. 2008), FREE EBOOKS DOWNLOAD; Mugerwa, supra.)

The bill will put in place mechanisms for efficient and effective exploitation of natural resources. According to Irene Muloni, the Minister of Energy, the bill seeks to establish a national oil company, through which the government will participate in the industry, and an authority to exercise regulatory functions. (Elias Biryabarema, Uganda Tables Long-Awaited Oil Law-Minister, REUTERS (Feb. 9, 2012).) It also establishes mechanisms to protect the environment, including mandates for restoration of depleted areas. In addition, the bill will include provisions on royalty sharing and the licensing process. (Mugerwa, supra.)