As oil companies prepare to extract
oil out of the ground, the next concern is Lake Albert’s water levels and fears that communities around the Lake could be denied access to the water resources.
everyone is eagerly waiting to see out of the ground, there concerns that oil
production could have a heavy toll on Lake Albert’ water resources.
It is expected CNOOC Uganda Limited
and Total E&P could draw much more water from Lake Albert with planned
developments and the King Fisher and Tilenga projects.
Water is an integral element of in Oil and
gas production value chain or resource development. It is used in oil
extraction, refining and processing, and transportation.
CNOOC Uganda Limited’s Environmental
Social Impact Assessment(ESIA) Report said a water intake station will be
constructed on Lake Albert to draw water for its project’s needs.
The water intake station according
to the ESIA will be pumping an estimated 390 m3 of water per hour.
It is that the average daily water demand
at the Central Processing Facility will be approximately 100 m3/day. The
estimate excludes water needed for domestic requirements at construction camps.
Some studies have indicated that over 750
billion liters of water could be extracted from Lake Albert alone over the
twenty-year period of oil production.
No estimates have been given for the
amount of water that will be drawn by Total E&P which plans to drill
boreholes as part of its plans to water is wells and pipelines.
On average, at global level, 3 to 5
barrels of water are produced for every barrel of oil produced.
CNOOC plans to use
horizontal drilling method to extract oil from Lake Albert. While horizontal
drilling is known for increased production efficiency, and a reduction in the
number of wells to be drilled, a number of studies have found that it is more water
intensive than vertical drilling.
Apart from the water levels,
a number of civil society actors expressed fears that that CNOOC’s activities could
impact on ground water quantity, in the area, lead to contamination of ground
water among others.
The report suggested the
construction of a water balance facility to monitor all water intake and discharge
volumes and quantities as part of the mitigation measures.
But some of the participants
at the just concluded King Fisher Development Project ESIA public hearing were seemingly
not satisfied with the mitigation measures suggested in the report.
Ntoroko District Chairperson,
Timothy Kyamanyua expressed said communities around Lake Albert could negatively
impacted when huge volumes of water are drawn during oil production.
/////Cue in “A third of our
Cue Out…. do you expect me
to sit and watch?”////
The Buhuka area on shores of
Lake Albert is home to thousands of fishermen and cattle keepers that have been
depending on the Lake for livelihoods. CNOOC is planning a range of production
facilities in the same area.
Opio Christopher is one of
the refinery affected persons. He spoke at the public hearings in Kikube and
////Cue In “They are saying I a…….
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Opio is mindful of the
likely conflict that could arise between Uganda and Democratic Republic of
Congo over the shared transboundary Lake.
He thinks the Environmental Social
Impact Assessment report that may be approved by National Environment
Management Authority should have been clear on the matter.
////Cue IN “Another thing is……
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Petroleum Authority's Director for Data Management , Dr. Joseph Kobusheshe told URN in an interview that all effort are being taken to ensure a balance between water needed for the oil and gas development and other economic activities dependent on Lake Albert and George.
////Cue In " The oil companies and indeed......Cue Out.....any impacts are managed well"///
Fear of Pollutants to the Lake
There has also been a
concern about the potential increase in waste nuisance including heavy metals to
the Lake and its surroundings.
Water and Environment Sector Performance Report 2018 said heavy metals are often common in
crude oil and drilling fluid that is used in oil exploration and production.
It said water
samples from the Albertine Graben indicated high concentrations of some of the
Some of the
metals identified in the report included; cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead
(Pb), arsenic (As), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), cobalt (Co),
aluminium (Al), mercury (Hg) and iron (Fe).
Some of the metals
according to the report were carcinogenic in nature.
The report warned that high
concentration of those metals in drinking water will pose a health risk to the
local communities in the Albertine Graben.
companies were urged to put in place adequate waste management facilities to
prevent pollution of drinking water for humans and animals with the toxic
The report also recommended that relevant government
agencies enforce relevant waste management regulations in the Albertine Graben
to minimise pollution of the water resources and the environment.
The Directorate of Water Development
was tasked to carry out
comprehensive assessments of water resources in the oil and gas regions to
establish the exact possible causes of heavy metal contamination and address
them. It is not clear whether the assessment was carried out.
Water development explains
The Directorate of Water Development’s Principle Water Officer, Edward
Martin Rwaninda said there are genuine concerns about the volumes of water to
be used in the Oil and gas developments.
He revealed that there is an ongoing study to assess the impact of water
that is to be used in the oil and gas sector in the Albertine.
//// Cue In “There is water for people……
Cue Out…..we pan for that resource”////
Rwaninda says through modeling, they have
found that water usage by the oil and gas sector from Lake Albert is currently estimated about
zero percent but could rise to seven percent during development and production