Another investigation by Taimour Lay shows the risks of Tullow & Heritage’s oil finds on Lake Albert fueling new fighting between armed forces (armies and militias) in the region.

“Heritage Oil, owned by former mercenary fighter Tony Buckingham, had donated speed boats to the FARDC (Congolese national army) in March 2007 and had also been responsible for the delivery of 30 Land Rover jeeps to Bunia, which were then distributed to local commanders across the region.”

Bunia has been the scene of repeated clashes between government forces and militias since then, causing tens of thousands of people to flee.


Rukwanzi Island, on the international border, was the scene of Uganda-DRC clashes in 2007. (c) Taimour Lay

SPECIAL REPORT: Fresh fears of fighting on Lake Albert’s oil shores

In a packed wooden hut on the docks of Rukwanzi, a cacophony of Swahili, Lingala and French fills the air. Islanders’ hands shoot up to demand answers. Will the companies make us leave? Is Uganda already taking the oil? How will a joint production area work? What will happen to the fishermen if there’s a spill? Taimour Lay visited Ituri, eastern DRC and Rukwanzi and tells the story.

The 3,000 people here, eking out a living from the dwindling fish stocks of Lake Albert, find themselves at the centre of an area believed to contain up to 2 billion barrels of oil. They also live on the volatile, disputed border between two neighbours only just beginning to re-establish diplomatic ties after decades of conflict.

Eastwards across the water, you glimpse Uganda. To the west, the shore of war-torn Ituri, eastern DR Congo. Oil will either force the countries together as partners, or create tensions that lead to a future war – no one on the ground is willing to say which is more likely.

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