Total to spend over $300 mln on Uganda exploration
* Money to be spent on drilling, appraisal
* Total, Tullow and CNOOC to jointly develop oil sector
By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA, April 13 (Reuters) - French oil company Total plans to spend over $300 million in 2012 on exploration in Uganda where small-scale commercial oil production is expected to begin later this year.
Total, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and British explorer Tullow Oil in February signed a $2.9 billion deal to ramp up output in the east African country's nascent oil sector.
Uganda discovered commercial hydrocarbon deposits in the Albertine rift basin along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.
The success of Total's partnership is key to unlocking a $10 billion investment in vital infrastructure to allow Uganda to start pumping oil to world markets.
Each of the partners has a stake in five exploration blocks - EA-1, EA-1A, EA-2, Kanywataba and Kingfisher Discovery. Total operates blocks EA-1 and EA-1A.
"As far as the block EA-1 operated by Total is concerned a very intensive appraisal program is being carried out," Loic Laurandel, general manager Total E&P Uganda, told a parliamentary committee probing bribery accusations in the oil sector. Continued...