Uganda's oil contracts leaked - a bad deal made worse
Held secret by the Ugandan government and oil companies Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil, PLATFORM can today reveal the terms of the contracts for oil operations by Lake Albert on the Uganda-Congo border, and their economic implications.
For the first time, one of Uganda's Production Sharing Agreements is available to the public to read, after a leaked copy was placed online. PLATFORM's analysis of the contract reveals that the repeated claims by the Ugandan government and the oil companies that Uganda has received a very good deal and the best in the region are not only a fiction, but were reliant on the real terms of the contracts being kept secret. While the contracts will deliver vast profits to Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil, the contracts will prevent the Ugandan people from receiving their due benefits. The terms of the contracts and the lack of openness are placing Uganda on a track set for the "resource curse".
(A full qualitative and quantitative analysis will follow at a later date)
Summary of "A Bad Deal Made Worse - How the PSAs are ripping off Uganda"
- There is currently no transparency over Uganda’s oil contracts, on the part of the Ugandan government or the foreign oil companies. This will prevent positive development outcomes while enabling corruption and environmental degradation on the part of the oil companies. Past experience indicates that without public debate and accountability, the “resource curse” is largely inevitable.
- The Production Sharing Agreements signed in Uganda do not represent the great deal publically claimed by the government. Internal figures modelled by the government indicate that the state will receive 67.5% - 74.2% of total revenue. A Credit Suisse analysis of Heritage Oil predicts government take of between 55% and 67%. PLATFORM’s assessment indicates the government will received between 47.4% and 79.5% of revenues, depending on the price of oil, size of fields, development costs and other factors. The highest figures will only be achieved if the government takes up the possible 15% state participation. These figures are all below the 80+% regularly trumpeted by the government and the oil companies.
- The contracts are highly profitable for the participating oil companies. In the most likely scenarios, Tullow Oil could make a 30-35% return on its investment. This represents a very high profit level for the oil industry, even for risky projects, and indicates excessive profit-taking at the expense of the host government. Even in the least promising (and less likely) scenarios, Tullow would received a 12-14% return – a comfortable profit margin.
- Compared to contracts in other countries, Uganda is receiving a worse deal. Modelling the same field under the terms of Heritage’s contract in Iraqi Kurdistan (a more dangerous environment) indicates that the Kurdistan Regional Government will receive a greater proportion of revenues than Uganda, while Heritage will receive a higher rate of return in Uganda.
- Uganda’s contracts fail to capture increased rent as the oil price rises. This is a major flaw, especially in light of the recent high oil prices. As prices rose through the 2000s, there was a recognition amongst producer governments that the state has a duty to its citizens to capture the rent from higher prices and that the private companies do not have a right to excessive profit-taking. As the oil price rises, the oil companies make a higher and unlimited profit. However, the state take plateaus at under 80%. Thus the oil companies will take close to one quarter of oil revenues, whether the oil price is $70 or $200 – raking in enormous profits.
- Most of the risks lie with the Ugandan state, not the private companies. Price risk lies primarily with Uganda, with the private companies virtually guaranteed a profit even at low prices. While project risk (eg increased costs) are shared between both, Ugandan revenues will fall significantly further if the project runs over-budget.