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Uganda begins to archive its oil history

Energy minister Irene Muloni officially opens the oil and gas museum

The dream of seeing the first drop of oil may be still far away. But like a father excited about their first born recording every little detail of the child, Uganda has moved to archive and document its oil and gas progress.

The country recently revamped its oil and gas section in the Uganda Museum.

The section, which was made possible with funding from the three major oil companies, Total E&P, Tullow and CNOOC, is to serve as a centre for basic information and research about oil and gas in Uganda. The section offers a history of the petroleum industry in Uganda, all the way from 1920 when preliminary exploration was done by the African-European Investment Company with the first oil well, Butiaba Waki B-1 drilled in 1938.

It then takes you through the years up to the current developments, where the country is gearing up for the production stage.

Among the artifacts on display is the drilling rig, a machine used to drill an oil well. However, the most eye-catching and biggest of all the machines on display is one called the ‘Christmas tree.’

The machine, which derives its name from its shape, which roughly resembles a Christmas tree, is an assembly of mechanical parts used in oil exploration and production primarily for flow control in oil and gas wells. Apparently, the control devices that comprise some of the ‘decoration’ on the tree are opened when the oil or gas is ready to produce, and the processing and storage facilities are ready to receive.

Other art facts include a cementing truck and fuel pump. Speaking at the launch ceremony held at the museum, Total E&P’s corporate affairs manager Ahlem Friga Noy noted that the ‘section is the only one in the museum, which illustrates the past, the present and the future.’

“Past, with the history of the oil discoveries and the extraordinary way nature through geology enable us to dispose a sustainable source of energy. Present, with the presentation on the pre-development phase and the hopes that are triggered. The future, with the production and the commercialization through the refinery and the crude export pipeline and the new economic prosperous era it will open for Uganda,” she said.

She, however, noted that while the section talks about the past, it has emphasis on modern and highest technologies that need to be used in such sensitive areas to protect the biodiversity and to have an environmentally friendly approach of the oil operations.

The minister of energy, Irene Muloni, who was the chief guest, commended the oil companies for their commitment to information sharing with Ugandans.

"This section will play a great role in shaping our future through educating the public about the oil, encouraging young minds to pursue academic studies related to the sector and also the private sector to pursue business opportunities with the oil sector," she said.

In 2006 when oil exploration resumed, the museum in conjunction with the geology department in the ministry of energy attempted a small display on oil but, according to Rose Mwanje, the commissioner of museums and antiques, ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities, it had limitations because of poor funding. She called upon other corporate companies to emulate the contribution made by the partners in order to bring the Uganda museum to international standards.

smusasizi@observer.ug

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