Uganda has initiated talks with undisclosed partners from Africa, the Middle East and China for the development of a proposed 60,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery project, reported African Business, citing a senior executive at the government regulator.

The move comes despite the exit of Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) from the $4bn refinery project in June 2023.

Due to its inability to secure funding for the project, AGRC was unable to meet the time frame for a final investment decision.

This resulted in the consortium losing its rights to develop the refinery, and the Ugandan Government has been forced to start over.

Uganda Petroleum Authority legal and corporate affairs director Ali Ssekatawa was cited by the news agency as saying that the Uganda National Oil Company will continue to advance the development of the refinery project while the government looks for a strategic project partner.

The director said the next steps would be announced within the next three months.

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Ssekatawa stated: “There is a lot of appetite and interest in developing the refinery.”

He confirmed that talks have taken place with Algerian state-owned company Sonatrach. Discussions have now also been initiated with several interested parties from Africa, the Middle East and China.

Ssekatawa added: “The preferred option is the Uganda National Oil Company working together with another national oil company to take forward this project.”

AGEC has already completed front-end engineering and design work, as well as environmental impact assessments for the proposed project.

Furthermore, most of the land has been acquired and cleared to build the refinery and associated pipelines, Ssekatawa said.

The refinery is due to be built on a 29km² area in Kabaale Parish in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District.

AGRC includes General Electric’s Oil and Gas division, India’s YAATRA Ventures (US), Intracontinent Asset Holdings and Italy’s Saipem.