Drilling and other operations at the Kingfisher Project, operated by the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) in Kikuube district have been suspended after an accident on Friday.
According to URN, the development was announced in a leaked letter by Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director of The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
In the letter, Mr. Rubondo directed CNOOC Ltd to halt operations from 7th October 2023 until further notice. The letter referenced PAU 10/01/002 was addressed to the CNOOC Uganda President.
“The Petroleum Authority of Uganda has learnt of a fatal incident within the Kingfisher project area that occurred today 6th October 2023. This regrettable incident follows several safety incidents that this authority has previously brought to the attention of CNOOC Uganda Limited (CUL). This trend is unacceptable as it compromises the safety of the personnel and damages the safety of the sector” said Rubondo.
Quoting section 177 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development, and Production) Act 2013, Rubondo directed CNOOC Uganda Limited to halt operation with the exception of activities required to maintain safety and security.
He suggested a Zoom meeting between the two parties on Sunday afternoon. While details about the incidents are scanty, sources at the site indicated to URN that the fatal accident with Kingfisher’s operation area led to the death of one person.
The source indicated that the truck belonged to Excel Company, which was subcontracted by CNOOC Uganda Limited for site clearance, and construction of well pads among others.
The Kingfisher field is being developed by a partnership of oil and gas companies: TotalEnergies E&P, (56.67%), China National Offshore Oil (CNOOC), (28.33%), and Uganda National Oil Company (15%). CNOOC Uganda, a subsidiary of CNOOC, serves as the operator of the field.
CNOOC began drilling works in January this year, almost a year after a Final Investment Decision was taken. Sources at the Ministry of Energy indicated to URN that while TotalEnergies Tilenga project area has not suffered any fatal accidents, the Kingfisher area has been dogged by a number of incidents.
The source indicated that it appears like CNOOC Uganda Limited has not ensured strict adherence to the safety requirements. Like sectors of the economy, the Oil and Gas Industry in Uganda is required to protect employees against work-related sickness, disease, and injury.
Amina Bukenya, the Manager of Media and Publicity at CNOOC Uganda Limited did confirm that there was an accident on site but she declined to give further details when contacted on the phone. She confirmed that they were headed for a crisis meeting over the matter.