(Refiles to further clients)
* Uganda disagrees with Tullow Oil over size of refinery
* Country searching for advisor to help secure financing for
By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA, Sept 15 Total SA expects to
drill eight exploration wells in Uganda by end 2013, and will
spend about $650 million on its activities in the same period, a
senior company official said on Saturday.
Total entered Uganda's burgeoning petroleum industry early
this year after it and China's China's CNOOC took up a
third each of British explorer Tullow Oil's exploration
assets in the country for a total of $2.9 billion.
"Total E&P Uganda is currently continuing the exploration,
delineation and appraisal campaign initiated by the previous
operators," Loic Laurandel, Total E&P Uganda's general manager
told Reuters on Saturday.
"The first oil exploration well will be drilled by the end
of 2012 and eight new exploration wells will be drilled by the
end of 2013."
Uganda discovered oil in its west along the border with the
Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2006. Production had been
expected to start early this year but wrangling over tax and
other issues delayed development.
Tullow Oil and the government are negotiating how to best
settle tax issues and a hearing is scheduled for later this year
if the company fails to reach a settlement with the revenue
Laurandel said Total, which operates block 1 on the northern
tip of Lake Albert, will spend about $650 million on exploration
and appraisal drilling and seismic data acquisition by the end
of next year.
Uganda has said it was searching for an advisor to help it
secure financing for a planned refinery to process its crude.
Tullow says the refinery's capacity should not exceed 60,000
barrels per day to be attractive to investors but the government
wants a facility with a maximum output of 120,000 barrels per
day is viable and can easily attract investors.
Total supports the project but Laurandel said the company
could not comment on whether it will invest in it or state its
preferred size of facility because disclosure of its positions
was likely to undermine discussions with the government.
"Sufficient resources exist (1.8-2.2 billion barrels) to
deliver a plateau production rate of 200-230,000 barrels per day
in support of an appropriate sized refinery," he said.
"We think that an international crude oil export pipeline,
combined with an optimally sized refinery will provide the
maximum benefit to the wider Ugandan economy."
Uganda is expected to conduct a licensing round for hundreds
of square kilometres of exploration acreage after parliament
passes new oil laws expected by the end of this year.
(Editing by George Obulutsa and William Hardy)