Cablegate: Uganda: Lake Security Measures Lacking in Oil Rich Region

DE RUEHKM #0393/01 0730622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADX06D6158 MSI7850 611)
R 130622Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A)KAMPALA 24, B)07 KAMPALA 1419, C)07 KAMPALA 1902

KAMPALA 00000393 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ambassador Browning and Combined Joint Task
Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Rear Admiral Greene traveled to
Lake Albert in western Uganda on March 4 to follow up on a request
from the Ugandan military to help increase its lake security
capabilities. Lake Albert is divided in half by the
Ugandan-Congolese border, and its shores on both sides run along an
oil rich region known as the Albertine Rift, where the bulk of oil
exploration is occurring. John Morley of Tullow Oil, one of the
four exploration companies operating in western Uganda, said that as
the oil activity on Lake Albert increased, a security presence would
be vital. He offered potential Tullow cooperation toward this end.
Despite the January agreement between Ugandan and Congolese Energy
Ministry officials (Ref A), several clashes on Lake Albert between
oil companies and entities from the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) (Ref B) demonstrate that oil production has increased local
tensions and exacerbated cross-border hostilities. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Following two deadly incidents on Lake Albert in 2007, the
Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) requested USG assistance with
training and equipping a lake security force which could enforce
Uganda's territorial waters, protect Uganda's oil assets, and reduce
violent incidents. Twenty percent of Uganda's territory is water
and a large portion of the border is coastline. The country
currently has no effective means to provide security on Lakes
Victoria, Albert, Edward, George and Kyoga. (Note: In August 2007,
Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) approached a Heritage Oil exploration
barge operating near the Ugandan-Congolese border and claimed the
barge had strayed into Congolese waters. The ensuing firefight
resulted in the death of one British Heritage employee. In
September 2007, the United Nations Mission to Congo (MONUC) took a
Heritage seismic vessel into custody and escorted it to a port in
the DRC. Heritage called on a response boat, which MONUC ordered to
turn around. On the way back, it fired on a passenger ferry killing
five Congolese civilians and two Congolese soldiers. End note.)

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An Increased Need for Lake Security
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3. (U) Ambassador Browning and CJTF-HOA Rear Admiral Greene met
with representatives from Tullow Oil and the Ugandan People's
Defense Force (UPDF), as well as local leaders (reported septel) in
Hoima district on March 4. The visit took place in Block Two of
Uganda's oil exploration concessions, which borders the northern two
thirds of Lake Albert and is licensed to Tullow Oil.

4. (SBU) Tullow Oil Development Director John Morley, Lake Albert
Safari Lodge Owner Bruce Martin, and Community Liaison Richard
Angubo discussed the need for security on Lake Albert with
Ambassador Browning and Rear Admiral Greene. The Ambassador noted
that oil exploration and production would raise the profile of the
area, which could lead to increased incidences of violence between
Ugandan locals and security forces and their Congolese counterparts.
Morley echoed the views of Ugandan Brigadier General Emmanuel
Burundi, who said that the Ugandan military lacked a clear policy
and physical infrastructure for security on the lake. The Ugandan
military has only six to eight boats used for patrolling Lake Albert
and some "loosely-trained" soldiers. Morley stressed that any
attempts to provide training and infrastructure for Lake Albert
security would require a "ground zero" approach.

5. (SBU) As oil exploration expands on Lake Albert, activity on the
lake would increase significantly, Morley stressed. Already, there
were boats testing for oil among what used to be an area frequented
only by wooden fishing boats. By the end of the year, Morley said
that Tullow would have one oil rig on the lake. Tullow employs
between 100 and 200 local residents out of a total population of
around 45,000, but even this minor infusion of economic activity has
a considerable impact on the area. Morley expressed confidence that
the oil companies would continue to uncover significant oil finds in
both Ugandan and Congolese reserves. This would raise the stakes in
terms of land tenure and property rights, access to and control over
natural resources, and food security for communities on both sides
of Lake Albert.

6. (SBU) The interlocutors agreed that an increased presence of
Ugandan security forces patrolling the lake would incense the
Congolese. A joint-patrol mechanism would be the best way to
contribute to a strong cross-border relationship. However, Morley
noted that the "security chaps" operating on the Congolese side were
not necessarily linked to the Government of the DRC (GDRC).
Meetings between Ugandan and Congolese soldiers were starting to
take place, according to Morley. A meeting had just occurred in
Pakwach, northwestern Uganda, the previous week, and the Chiefs of
Defense met in January in DRC. Morley suggested that if the lake
were physically demarcated, it would prevent both sides from
accusing the other of stealing the oil. (Note: Congolese and
Ugandan energy officials agreed to physically demarcate the lake

KAMPALA 00000393 002.2 OF 002

border with buoys at an inter-ministerial meeting in January. End

7. (SBU) Butiaba, located toward the northern end of Lake Albert,
would be the best location for a Ugandan military base and boat
launch, Morley said. Butiaba has a natural bay and has been the
chief port of Lake Albert for centuries. This was the original
launch point of a five-star cruise ship, known as the SS Robert
Coryndon, that toured the lake and made stops in Ugandan and
Congolese ports. When floods raised the water level several meters
in the mid-1960s, the cruise ship was deserted and the entire
infrastructure at Butiaba was lost to water damage and looting.

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Tullow's Good Works Could Include Help for UPDF
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8. (SBU) Potential funding for enhanced Ugandan military
water-borne capabilities was also discussed. Morley explained that
as a private company, Tullow could not participate in training UPDF
forces. However, he could foresee the company providing
infrastructure such as access roads and piers on and around Lake
Albert that could be used by the military. Morley explained that
Tullow provided about USD 250,000 per year for infrastructure and
support for environmental, social, educational, and health-related
programs in the area. To date, the company has built three primary
schools, one maternity health clinic, and one honey collection
center; and has paid for teachers, health care workers, medicines
and bee hives.

9. (SBU) In terms of security-related projects, Tullow funded a
Lake Rescue center in one of the fishing villages, Kaiso, located in
its concession. The head of the Lake Rescue Center claimed that it
saved the lives of almost 70 fishermen, many of whom were Congolese,
last year. The initiative is locally-driven and staffed by
community volunteers, primarily women. Tullow supported the
construction of a new building, as well as a motor boat and other
supplies. It also trained local community members to make personal
flotation devices.

10. (SBU) Tullow claims to pride itself on being part of a new
generation of oil companies. According to Morley, the company
allocates significant resources for community outreach, and refuses
to pay bribes. Tullow had signed an agreement for a 48 percent
share of a concession in eastern DRC, on the other side of Lake
Albert. However, Morley said that Tullow would most likely lose out
to another company that had offered one of the Congolese energy
ministers a USD five million bribe. A Congolese Government official
called Morley to ask him to match the bribe. In response, Tullow
promised to put USD five million worth of health and education
projects into the region where they would be operating, but the
Minister did not accept the offer.

11. (SBU) Comment: A lack of information from the governments of
Uganda and DRC about oil policy and bilateral arrangements to ease
tensions has created a vacuum that is easily filled by rumors and
suspicions. As oil exploration turns into production, local
expectations of development benefits will continue to grow. Over
time, unmet community expectations combined with increased pressure
on resources from in-migration is likely to feed into tensions
within and between communities on both sides of the lake. Already,
the region has experienced several incidences of violent clashes on
Lake Albert between the oil companies and armed units or civilians.
Local frictions from several decades of conflict between Uganda and
Congo could play into increased instability in the area.

12. (SBU) Comment continued: DAO has requested an assessment team
in the third quarter of this year to provide the Ugandan military
with an organizational, doctrinal, training, and equipment needs
assessment for a future lake security force. Post looks forward to
hearing Embassy Kinshasa's views on this initiative and on potential
FARDC cooperation.

© Scoop Media

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