KAMPALA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri
Museveni wants the final say on all oil and gas deals as the
country prepares to launch oil production, a letter seen by
In the letter dated July 19 but given to Reuters on
Thursday, Museveni ordered his energy minister Hilary Onek not
to sign any oil or gas deals without his prior, written consent.
Museveni said he was changing the normal practice of a
minister signing deals on behalf of the government after advice
from the attorney general, in order to safeguard against
Museveni said the discovery of oil in Uganda had created a
lot of "excitement and stampede" among some people who were
scrambling for easy money from the commodity.
"We should therefore not allow ourselves to be part of this
stampede," he wrote in a letter copied to other senior
government officials, including the vice president and attorney
"In the case of petroleum and gas, I direct that no
agreement should ever be signed without my express written
approval of that arrangement."
Commercial hydrocarbon deposits were discovered in Uganda's
Lake Albert Rift basin along the border with the Democratic
Republic of Congo in 2006 and reserves are estimated at 2
Tullow Oil, Heritage Oil, Neptune Petroleum and Dominion
Limited are some of the firms involved in the sector, which is
expected to begin commercial production in the last quarter of
The opposition said Museveni's directive was aimed at giving
him greater control of funds from the sector.
"He wants to amass wealth as much as possible which
obviously explains his interest in personally controlling the
oil bonanza that is coming," said Semujju Ibrahim Nganda,
spokesperson for the Inter-Party Cooperation, a coalition of
Uganda wants to introduce tough new income tax rules so that
oil companies pay tax on revenues once production starts and
from the sale of oil block stakes.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Nina Chestney)