ARUA. Companies and qualified individuals in Northern Uganda risk losing out on oil and gas opportunities if they fail to register on the national oil and gas talent  register and the national suppliers' database.

This is because petroleum companies operating in the Albertine graben want to deal with credible suppliers that are registered and known.

This was revealed by Mr Krishna Ramji, the coordinator National Albertine Network on Environment and Petroleum (NENEP) during a meeting with civil society leaders operating in Northern Uganda on oil and gas sector.

“I remember last year, Alur kingdom was celebrating her anniversary and Total Uganda had pledged to supply water for the function and they wanted local suppliers from the list and they could not get any until they crossed over to Nwoya district”, Ramji said.

He appealed to those who have not registered to seize the opportunity saying despite low petroleum activities in the region, the opportunities were high for registered companies.

“There was a time when we brought in Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Uganda Rvevenue Authority (URA) and so many others to train our business community of West Nile on how to register their businesses so that they don’t lose out on these opportunities but we don’t know what the problem is”. He said.

Ramji continued “Much as these oil companies hit a dry well especially Neptune that was working within this belt, it does not mean that we should lose hope, it gives us more opportunity to equip ourselves with much more information, it gives local leaders time to revise their land compensation rates such that when activities formerly resume, we would be much more prepared”.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has developed a National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) and the National supplier's database to capture all talent that can potentially work in the oil and gas sector as required by law.

The NOGTR is a register classified into the demand and supply side users. The demand side users consist of companies/government agencies which meet the eligibility criteria seeking to recruit human resource across projects in the oil and gas sector and redeployment of the same to other sectors.

On the other hand, the supply side users include individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for the workforce demands of the oil and gas and are likely to be recruited by the demand side users.

Mvule and Omuka blocks remain the two areas in Northern Uganda which government has put up for licensing though no company has shown interest in exploring the potentials.

However, Mr Onesmus Dralega, the lead trainer during the meeting said locals still don’t understand issues of oil and gas because the language used by those spreading the message is complicated and too academic.

“We need to raise a voice, a voice that is prepared with knowledge that can package this and speak simplified to the local community as if they are speaking to P4 leavers; we are still very complicated in the issue of oil and gas using big and complicated English words which my grandmother cannot understand anything about”, Dralega complained.

He said issues of oil and gas still look abstract to the local communities because they have not been given enough information in simple language to appreciate the oil resource in the country.

Ms Emmanuela Adokun, the acting program manager Life concern based in Zombo district said issues of oil and gas sound foreign to locals in rural communities but called for increased awareness creation especially on issues to do with the protection of the environment and opportunities that would come with oil and gas exploration in the region.