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A Ugandan scholar being congratulated by Hugh Hoffatt of the British Council, Irene Muloni, Uganda Minister of Energy, and Eoin Mekie, General Manager Tullow Uganda (courtesy of Tullow)

The government of Uganda signed a pipeline and refinery deal with a Tullow-led consortium that could lead to commercial production and crude exports by 2018.

Uganda has the fourth biggest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa.

Oil was discovered there in 2006 but development has been delayed by the government.

Total and Cnooc are partners with Tullow on the development project.

Uganda’s reserves rank behind Nigeria, Angola and South Sudan, according to the International Monetary Fund.

President Museveni had said that Uganda would never export its crude oil

The planned refinery will be designed to initially handle 60,000 barrels per day.

Observers think another 60,000 barrels per day could be available for export.

Ugandan Energy Minister Irene Muloni said “The conclusion of the MOU is a significant step as it gives a road map for the commercialization of petroleum resources discovered in the country.”