Natural Gas Flaring in Uganda
Uganda Radio Network (URN) wrote in early 2011 that the Ugandan government was allowing Tullow Oil to flare some gas during tests as part of its ongoing explorations in Lake Albert region in Uganda's west. The Ugandan National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) allows the flaring to take place under what it calls strict observation, according to URN. Dr. Festus Bagora, the head of Environmental Monitoring at NEMA, said that while flaring is dangerous for the environment it is inevitable in testing oil wells.
But Taimour Lay, a researcher for the UK non-governmental organization Platform, told the New York Times that "once [Uganda] moves to major production, the legal rights given to the companies to flare gas will lead to pollution, carbon emissions and local conflict, as has happened in Nigeria. Under these Ugandan contracts, the government won’t even have the right to ask them to stop flaring."
The Ugandan energy minister at the time of the URN report, Hillary Onek, said the government was examining ways in which the gas to be flared could be useful in addressing the country’s energy needs. According to him Uganda was studying the Norwegian practice of generating electricity or packaging the gas to be flared for cooking in homes. Sites such as treehugger.com have also noted that, while liquefaction infrastructure is probably too costly, other mechanisms for disposing of associated gas without flaring it should be explored, including pumping it back underground, or using it in local gas-fired power plant to generate electricity for local communities.
The New York Times reported in February 2010 about environmental activists' concerns about gas flaring in Uganda. Critics of the Ugandan government's allowing Tullow to flare natural gas include Nessa Childers, a member of the European Parliament for Ireland East (Tullow is based in Ireland), who urged Tullow and Uganda to sign up to the World Bank's Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership.
- "Government,Tullow finally agree on amount of gas to be flared", Uganda Radio Network, 26 April 2011.
- "Concerns Raised Over Gas Flaring in Uganda", New York Times, 18 February 2010.
- "Uganda: Anything But Gas Flaring, Please", Treehugger, 18 February 2010.
- "Childers criticises Tullow oils plans to flare natural gas in Uganda", The Irish Labour Party, 18 February 2010.