Oil and gas exploration and environmental protection in Uganda: An appraisal of the policy and legal framework
The study analysed the effectiveness of the policy, legal framework for oil and gas exploration in as far as environmental protection in Uganda in general is concerned. This study was hinged on the general objective that was to analyse the effectiveness of the oil and gas policy, legal framework in as far as environmental protection in Uganda is concerned. The methodology used in the study was a qualitative approach mainly composed of desk review, and complemented by interviews. The study’s major findings were that the legal framework which is comprised of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the National Environment Act, the new Petroleum Acts, as the major legislations on environmental protection and oil and gas matters in Uganda provide for the protection of natural resources, environmental impact assessment, prevention of pollution, waste management, among others which are very crucial in the exploration of oil and gas in Uganda. The policy framework also makes provision for environmental protection and further provides for the creation of institutions to govern and mange the petroleum sector and also the adoption of international policies that are expected to strengthen Uganda’s policy, legal framework. However, though provision is made to cover some of the environmental issues as already mentioned other issues like; oil spills are not addressed in the legal framework and this is because most of the Acts were enacted at a time when there was no oil and gas exploration in Uganda. The study concluded that Uganda being new in the oil and gas industry, policies such as the National Oil and Gas Policy in place which provides for environmental matters and has been very instrumental in the drafting of more laws (the new Petroleum Acts) and the institutional framework to manage and govern the petroleum sector in Uganda. However, the legal framework has weak provisions as regards penalties to be given to the culprits and especially because a number of these provisions are not up to date as pointed out in this study. Therefore, the study recommends that more emphasis is made in ensuring that the policy, legal framework in place are effective by adopting provisions that apply directly to the oil and gas industry and environmental issues at hand, not to the environment generally and also amend those provisions that are lacking in some of the acts given the fact that they were enacted at a time when there was no oil and gas exploration in Uganda.