The Uganda government has listed 16 international firms that are authorized to bid for oil exploration rights to six blocks of land near Uganda's border with Congo.
The list published Tuesday includes firms from Russia, the U.S., Nigeria, South Africa and Australia.
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Uganda's first oil licensing round is being closely watched by transparency watchdogs and environmental activists who hope the oil blocks will eventually go to firms with strong social and environmental track records so that the country may minimize the mismanagement and corruption seen in other oil-producing countries in Africa.
The territory in the Albertine Graben region in western Uganda is an ecologically sensitive area, and one of the blocks on offer lies within a wildlife park.