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The Uganda government has announced it will allow companies to bid for oil exploration licences next month.

Energy and mineral development minister Irene Muloni gave the news at a press conference last week, revealing seven new exploration blocks will open for bidding for the Albertine Graben site, All Africa reported.

Bidding will commence during the second week of May, so that it occurs at the same time as the East African Community Petroleum Conference, which is being held in Kenya’s Mombasa.

This is the second round of bidding for oil exploration deals, with the government having already signed deals with Armour Energy from Australia and Oranto Petroleum from Nigeria for more than Shs7 billion (£1.43 billion).

The first round of bidding unlocked six billion barrels of oil from the country’s capacity. However, Ms Muloni revealed new locations have been encountered.

“We have so far allocated ten per cent of the Graven to the existing firms. From the remaining 90 per cent of the Graben, we have picked data and it is this data that has helped us with the forming of these new blocks,” she stated.

It is thought the new area will cover both onshore and offshore sites covering 1,200 kilometres of oil exploration.

Uganda is not the only promising location for oil discovery, and Alaska’s North Slope is so rich in the fuel, there could be a significant rise in exploration in this region in the coming years.

Peninsula Clarion recently reported state officials as saying oil and rig activity in the area could reach a 20-year high in 2019.

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Equinor has announced that there has been a further delay to its Mariner oil project in the North Sea.

The Norwegian oil firm revealed that it is now not expecting to start producing oil through its flagship project until the second half of this year, having initially expected to start production towards the end of 2018.

Energy Voice explained that the reason for the delay was due to problems with the electrical equipment aboard the platform, which was built specifically for the project.

Vice president of projects at the firm Morten Ruth told the news provider that a “high failure rate” was uncovered in the platform’s electrical couplings during testing last year. To ensure there are no safety issues, the company is testing all 40,000 electrical couplings on the rig.

This process began in January, with Mr Ruth noting that they are now over halfway through the task.

He declined to offer any suggestions as to what had caused the problems, saying only that the company was involved in discussions with suppliers and contractors about where the liability lies.

“The important thing now is to show we have control of this issue. We need it under proper control before we start up,” Mr Ruth asserted.

The North Sea field, which is located to the east of Shetland, is predicted to produce 300 million barrels of oil when it comes online.

Petroleum Economist recently reported that oil firms are being urged to look again at areas in the North Sea that were previously dismissed as not holding oil reserves after new analysis of seismic data indicated there could be undiscovered reserves in these areas.

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