Uganda dismisses case seeking oil deals disclosure

Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:42pm IST

Stocks

   

* Court says government business does not have to be public

* Plaintiffs may appeal

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A Ugandan court on Wednesday dismissed a case filed by two Ugandan journalists in 2007 to try and force the government to disclose details of oil Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) it has signed with explorers.

The Ugandan government has defied pressure to disclose the terms of its agreements with oil companies, saying that would greatly weaken its position in future licensing rounds.

A Chief Magistrate's court in the capital Kampala dismissed the case filed by Charles Mpagi and Izama Angelo, senior journalists at local newspaper the Daily Monitor who described themselves as private citizens in their petition.

"Government business doesn't have to be necessarily in the public domain... The applicants have not demonstrated that public interest in this case overrides private interest," the judgment read.

Late last year, another group, Greenwatch, filed a similar case against the government. [ID:nLDE6040SA]

Exploration firms discovered commercial petroleum deposits in 2006 in the Albertine Graben area that sits on Uganda's western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Production is expected to start later this year.

The journalists said in their suit that the government's refusal to disclose the PSAs protected the interests of a "handful of shareholders" against 31 million Ugandans in whose trust the government owned the petroleum.

They built their case around the country's Access to Information Act, meant to allow free access to information in public offices except where disclosure jeopardises national security or privacy of an individual.

"We argued that... disclosure of these agreements is essential to achieving transparency. This is our belief and we might consider appealing," Mpagi said after the ruling.

Uganda has signed five PSAs. Among the companies operating in the country are Britain's Heritage Oil HOIL.L HOC.TO, Tullow Oil (TLW.L), Dominion Oil and Neptune Petroleum. (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by George Obulutsa and Sharon Lindores)

Religion and Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage