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Cablegate: Uganda Protests to Drc Over Oil Facility Attack

VZCZCXRO3344
RR RUEHGI RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1272 2191049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071049Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9182
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KAMPALA 001272

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C (LEADERS); AF FOR SWAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS ASEC PINS PHUM PGOV PTER UG
SUBJECT: UGANDA PROTESTS TO DRC OVER OIL FACILITY ATTACK

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Summary
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1. (SBU) The Uganda Government protested to the Government of the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accusing DRC troops of attacking
Heritage Oil installations on Lake Albert on August 3rd. Security
sources affirm that a British geologist was killed. In a separate
incident on July 28, four Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF)
soldiers were reportedly detained by DRC elements. The attack comes
at a time of increased optimism in Uganda's oil sector as offshore
drilling begins on the heels of a recent natural gas discovery.
These recent acts, reportedly triggered by a border dispute could
harm relations of the two countries, which had improved over the
past three years. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On August 3, the GOU protested to the Government of DRC of
a morning attack which killed Carl Nefdt, a British national working
with Heritage Oil, a Canadian firm. Media reports said three
Congolese armed patrol boats attacked a Heritage exploration crew
boat, which was carrying out a seismic survey on Lake Albert. Daudi
Migereko, Minister of Energy and Minerals, provided a strongly
worded diplomatic note to the DRC representative in Uganda urging
"the Congolese government and the United Nations to explain the
incident". The media quoted the Congolese diplomat as describing
the situation as a "serious problem which my country and the Uganda
Government should resolve as soon as possible".

3. (SBU) This incident comes at a time when Ugandan exploration
efforts are accelerating. In a meeting with EconOff on July 27
Minister Migereko said that Uganda has recently discovered natural
gas reserves at the oil site. Migereko said initial tests indicate
14 million cubic feet of natural gas per day which would be enough
to power 50 to 100 megawatts of thermal generators. Migereko said
that current total output is up to 30,000 barrels from 24,000
barrels a few months ago. Migereko estimates that this figure could
rise to 40,000 or 60,000 barrels in the coming months as more
exploratory wells are dug.

4. (SBU) Uganda is increasingly optimistic about exploratory
offshore drilling in Lake Albert which was scheduled to begin in
just a few weeks. Migereko told Econoff that the recent oil finds
appear to lead back to a larger oil reserve under the lake. He
added that Uganda would have a better understanding of the size of
the discovery once offshore drilling and testing is complete.
Migereko dismisses local press reports stating that Uganda has oil
reserves of 500 million barrels. He says it is too early to put a
figure on the size of the reserve until offshore drilling tests are
complete. The GOU intends to subdivide its remaining oil parcels
near Lake Albert and will begin a public tender process in the early
2008 for prospective investors.

5. (SBU) In a separate, but possibly related incident, Lt. Tabaro
Kiconco, the UPDF spokesperson in Western Uganda, confirmed the
arrest of four soldiers by DRC forces on July 28. He said the
soldiers were arrested while on official duty at Rukwanzi Island on
the Ugandan side of Lake Albert. Kiconco said the soldiers work
under the UPDF Marine Unit. They were detained in Bunya. Emboffs
talked to Kiconco who was heading to Rukwanzi in DRC to attend a
security meeting to resolve the problem. Kiconco said the UPDF is
providing protective measures for the oil workers.

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Comment
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6. (SBU) This attack caught the GOU by surprise. When Econoff asked
Minister Migereko just days before the attack if the security
situation near the oil operations on the lake was concern for the
GOU, he responded that there were not any immediate concerns or
threats from the DRC. Uganda is moving faster than the DRC to
exploit potential oil reserves under the lake which is shared by the
two countries. There is speculation that the attacks may be an
attempt to reassert DRC interests in its share of the oil reserves.
End Comment
BROWNING

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