UPDATE 1-Uganda selects six bidders for refinery project
* Country moving closer to oil production
* Winner of bid to hold 60 pct stake in refinery project
By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Uganda has selected six bidders for the development of its planned refinery, bringing the east African country closer to starting long-delayed crude production.
In a statement on Monday, the ministry of energy and mineral development said the six included a grouping led by Petrofac , one led by Marubeni Corp and another by Global Resources.
Others selected to develop the 60,000 barrels a day refinery were China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, SK Energy and a group led by Vitol.
The ministry said one of the companies or consortiums would be picked to lead the project in the first half of 2014.
Uganda discovered commercial hydrocarbon deposits in the Albertine rift basin along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 and reserves are estimated by the government at 3.5 billion barrels.
Protracted rows over taxes and the viability of the local refinery have repeatedly delayed commencement of crude production, which is now seen in 2017.
The government says the private investor who will eventually be selected will take up a stake of up to 60 percent in the $2.5 billion project and the government will hold the rest. East African neighbours such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania have been offered 10 percent, to be taken from the government's share.
The ministry said 75 companies and consortiums had expressed interest.
"The interest in the project ... clearly demonstrates that the international community sees real economic and energy opportunities within Uganda's borders," permanent secretary Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa said in a statement.
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