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Oil exploitation conflict in Buliisa District, Uganda

Conflicts between Tullow oil company and local people and pastoralists, near Lake Albert. Involves land grabbing and population displacement. Threat to wildlife.


After obtaining their exploration licences for Uganda in 2004, Tullow Oil made their first significant oil discoveries in 2006 in the Lake Albert Rift Basin. In 2007, Tullow took operational control of the exploration and appraisal of exploration area 2 (EA-2), which comprises the Buliisa district.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil exploitation conflict in Buliisa District, Uganda
State or province:Buliisa District
Location of conflict:Buliisa District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Tullow's exploration area 2, which Buliisa hosts, stretches over an area of 102,500 hectares in the Lake Albert Rift basin. By 2010, Tullow Oil had discovered around 900 million barrels of recoverable resources in the Lake Albert Rift Basin. In 2009, they were producing 10,000 to 20,000 barrels of oil per day.

Project area:102,500
Level of Investment for the conflictive project Investment from 2009-2010: 343,000,000 USD
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Around 400 people
Start of the conflict:01/01/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Total Mocambique from France
Total SA from France
Tullow Oil Plc from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:Supreme Court of Uganda
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:• Buliisa Women’s Environmental Protection and Savings Group
• Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO):
• Uganda Land Alliance:
• African Energy Institute for Governance (AFIEGO):
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Waste overflow, Oil spills, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Land demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:In some cases, compensation was increased after local residents protested the amount proposed by the companies. In many other cases evictions and land-grabbing occurred without any compensation and protests were repressed.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Oil Refinery Procurement and the New Property Rights and Compensation Law: AFIEGO Statement on Oil Refinery Procurement and the New Property Rights and Compensation Law, 1 September 2014.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

KUTEESA, Annette (2014), Local Communities and Oil Discoveries: A Study in Uganda's Albertine Graben Region, 25 February 2014,
[click to view]

African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) (2014), Policy Brief: Property and Compensation Rights in Uganda, Policy Briefing Paper No. 13, August 2014,
[click to view]

Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) (2011), Land Grabbing and Its Effects on the Communities in the Oil Rich Albertine Region of Uganda, The Case of Hoima, Buliisa and Amuru, September 2011,
[click to view]

Uganda to auction more oil blocks this year, Oil in Uganda, 15 June 2014,
[click to view]

Tullow Oil Agrees to Pay Buliisa Residents to Vacate Homes for Oil Well Testing, by Jonathan Akweteireho, Uganda Radio Network, 30 January 2009,
[click to view]

Uganda: Buliisa Farmers Angry With Total, by John Kibego, The Observer (Uganda), 6 November 2013,
[click to view]

Thugs attack Buliisa villagers who say their land was stolen, report by CM, Oil in Uganda, 27 June 2012,
[click to view]

Tullow Oil PLC – Group Licence Interests.
[click to view]

Huge oil reserves confirmed in Buliisa, by Ibrahim Kasita, New Vision, 22 April 2010,
[click to view]

Buliisa Residents Threaten To Block Oil Activities, by Fredrick Kivabulaya, Uganda Radio Network, 22 October 2013,
[click to view]

Contractor dumps human waste in homesteads, by Isaac Imaka, Daily Monitor, 9 July 2013,
[click to view]

Environmentalists Urge Oil Pollution Safeguards in Uganda, by Douglas Mpuga, Voice of America, 24 May 2012,
[click to view]

Buliisa women look to save money – and their environment, FW, Oil in Uganda, 24 September 2012,
[click to view]

Tullow tests Buliisa oil wells, by Francis Mugerwa, Daily Monitor, 8 September 2011
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Kasemene 1 Oil well site and Crude Oil offloading area in Bugungu Community, Civil Societies' Visit to Oil Sites: PEMO's Observations, Field Visit: March 2013.
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1761
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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