By Watchdog reporter
On Thursday, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development announced it had finally arrived on the person to head the converted Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU). It would have shocked players in the oil sector if it was another person.
The announcement brought to an end to the speculation over the people who would take the coveted job. The boss of PAU like other high flying government agencies will be among the top salary earners in the country.
“I am glad to announce the appointment of Mr. Ernest Rubondo as the first Executive Director of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU). The appointment which follows a recommendation by the Board of Directors of PAU ends a search for the Executive Director which started in January 2016,” said a statement from the Energy ministry’s permanent secretary Dr. F.A. Kabagambe-Kaliisa.
Mr Kaliisa explained PAU will be taking over roles that have previously been carried out by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. The appointment of Rubondo gives him a go ahead to form the organization that would monitor and regulate exploration, development and production of the petroleum in Uganda.
Rubondo who holds a Master of Science degree on Petroleum Reservoir Geology from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in the UK that he got back in 1990, hasworked with the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development since its inception in 1991. The new PAU boss grew through the ranks to become the head of PEPD in 2009. In 2015, he became the Director for Petroleum in the Ministry, a position he held until this appointment. For observers, that was to prepare him for the task ahead. It was a matter of time before he takes over the Authority.
In the course of his career, Rubondo has been a key participant in the promotion of Uganda’s petroleum potential, negotiating the country’s Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), monitoring the work of licensed oil companies and in negotiating the commercialization avenues for the country’s crude oil. He has also been heavily involved in the formulation of the country’s legal and regulatory framework including the National Oil and Policy and the recently enacted petroleum industry legislation for Uganda. He will take up the new assignment at the beginning of September, 2016.
The new head of Uganda’s Petroleum Authority is a highly revered fellow in Africa’s Oil Industry. According to the publication ugandaoil.co, Rubondo has a Global Pacific Award for Distinguished Contribution to the African Oil and Gas Industry which he received in 2007 and has worked with Scott Pickford Plc in the United Kingdom, a holding company which trades in the provision of technical, advisory and management services to the petroleum industry in the fields of geology, geophysics and other geoscience disciplines.
Between 2008-20014, Rubondo headed The Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) at the time the department was struggling to keep up with the pace of the sector. He has worked quietly to build a professional petroleum unit in Uganda by strengthening institutional competence in the powerful sector. He was also a key figure in the formulation of the draft National Oil and Gas Policy for Uganda, which was approved at the beginning of 2008.
Rubondo is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologist (AAPG), the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the Geological Society of Uganda.