Uganda suspends operations at Chinese-operated oilfield

Sunday October 08 2023
oil rig for the Kingfisher development area

The oil rig for the Kingfisher development area in Kikuube district in Uganda on January 24, 2023. Uganda says its oil dream is alive despite intensified criticism from several groups. PHOTO | STUART TIBAWESWA | AFP


The Petroleum Authority Uganda (PAU) on October 7 suspended all operations at the Chinese-operated Kingfisher oilfield over safety concerns, after a fatal accident on October 6. 

The Authority announced the development after a tragic motor vehicle accident that occurred at the Kingfisher Project Development Area in Kikuube District. 

Ernest Rubondo, PAU executive director, which regulates the oil and gas sector, said the accident is unacceptable coming after several other incidents that the agency has previously brought to the attention of CNOOC Uganda Ltd (CUL). 

"The purpose of this letter is therefore to direct that in accordance with Section 177 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, 2013 CUL halts all Kingfisher field development operations from 00.00 hours on Saturday 7th October 2023 until further notice," reads the letter signed by Mr Rubondo.

In a statement, Gloria Sebikari, PAU corporate affairs manager, confirmed that the October 6 incident resulted in the loss of the life of one of the sub-contractor's staffer. 

On October 8, the PAU called a meeting of all top executives of joint venture partners, CNOOC, TotalEnergies and Uganda National Oil Company, to review the matter and guide on the fate of the ongoing oilfield developments. 


The CNOOC-operated Kingfisher project is one of Uganda's oilfields that are currently in intensified drilling works to be ready for oil production in 2025. It will produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day, while the TotalEnergies-operated Tilenga project will produce 190,000 bpd at peak production.