Oil exploration has been ongoing in the Albertine Graben since the 1920’s. Currently there is confirmation of commercially viable oil deposits in this area with early production scheduled to begin 2009. Oil spills can have severe and long term ecological and socio-economic adverse impacts if not properly planned for and addressed. While it is not possible to predict the impacts of an oil spill with certainty it is possible to evaluate the vulnerability of an area to a defined spill scenario based on the environmental resources present in the area.

An environmental oil spill sensitivity atlas has been prepared to provide environmental planners with tools to identify resources at risk, establish protection priorities and identify timely appropriate response and clean-up strategies. The atlas enables oil companies and authorities to incorporate environmental consideration into exploration and contingency plans. It also provides an overview of such aspects as the occurrence of biological resources, human resource use (fishing and hunting) and archaeological sites that are particularly sensitive to oil spill. Furthermore it contains information regarding the physical environment, lake shore and bathymetry of Lake Albert and the climate of the area.

The Albertine Graben is known for its high biodiversity spots at the same time it is now an oil rich region. Oil is a non-renewable resource meaning that at one time it will be exhausted. Therefore, care has to be taken to ensure that exploitation of oil resources is done without compromising the quality and quantity of environmental resources. The oil for development strategy should improve services such as conservation of natural resources, infrastructure, energy, education etc.

I hope the information in this atlas will be used effectively during all decision making processes connected to oil and planning of all activities in oil for development.

Hon. Maria Mutagamba