By Juma Nsubuga
Parliament yesterday passed the Petroleum (Refining, Conversion, Transmission and Midstream Storage) Bill, 2012 into law .
The Bill covers different issues ranging from pertaining to midstream operation in order to provide sufficient checks and balances and mitigate abuse of office and corruption.
The bill defines the powers of the sector minister and also compliance with environmental principles in an attempt to protect the environment from irreparable damage due to careless waste disposal.
Like the first bill ,the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill, 2012, the second bill also gives a lot of powers to the minister of energy .The powers of granting, suspending and revoking of licenses, initiating, developing and implementing policy concerning midstream operations are all in the hands of the minister of energy,currently ,Irene Muloni.
The bill that is now waiting assent by the president intends to take care of the main stream activities in the petroleum industry chain which include processing petroleum and gas.
The bill also intends to establish an oil refinery in Uganda, which some MPs mainly from the opposition say may not be economically viable.
The shadow attorney general Abdul Katuntu says that it would have been wise to have one refinery for the entire region since other countries like South Sudan ,Kenya all have oil .
Meanwhile the minister of energy Irene Muloni says the East African partner states agreed to it that the refinery be built in Uganda and on top of that the country will meet its immediate needs of petroleum products.
Muloni says if the president assents to the law then Ugandans will expect the first production in three or four years to come.