KAMPALA - Uganda said on Friday it plans to announce a third oil licensing round in May in an effort to further develop a sector on track to produce its first oil in 2025.
Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu said in a statement detailing developments in the sector that the next licensing round would be announced at a regional petroleum conference due to take place in Uganda's capital Kampala in May.
She did not say how many blocks would be put up for auction.
The East African country discovered commercial hydrocarbon deposits near its western border with Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006. Production is projected to begin in 2025.
Uganda is also developing a crude export pipeline and a domestic crude refinery that will help to commercialise the country's oil resources.
A U.S. firm, Albertine Graben Energy Consortium Partners (AGEC), is planning to build and operate a $4.5 billion, 60,000 barrel-per-day refinery to produce a range of refined products and liquefied petroleum gas for the regional market.
It will also build a 213-kilometre (130-mile) refined products pipeline from the oilfields to storage facilities near Kampala.
Ssentamu said a final investment decision on the refinery was expected this year.
She added the pipeline and refinery would be developed concurrently and "when both projects are operational, the refinery will have the first call on crude oil".
All of Uganda's existing oilfields are jointly owned by France's TotalEnergies, China's CNOOC and the state-run Uganda National Oil Company.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Jason Neely)