Oil contracts signed secretly in Uganda and exposed by PLATFORM will allow major oil companies to flare gas with impunity in the country’s Lake Alberta region on the border with Congo. As the New York Times reports:

“Production is going to start in 2010 with no environmental assessment having yet been carried out,” said Platform’s researcher in Uganda, Taimour Lay. “Once we move to major production, the legal rights given to the companies to flare gas will lead to pollution, carbon emissions and local conflict, as has happened in Nigeria.” Mr. Lay added, “Under these Ugandan contracts, the government won’t even have the right to ask them to stop flaring.”

“There are no provisions for fines or penalties in the event of an oil spill or other problems,” Mr. Lay said. “This is extraordinary given that companies will be operating in one of the regions with the greatest biodiversity in Africa.”

The contracts, known as Production Sharing Agreements, were kept secret until they were leaked to PLATFORM, and analysed in a new report produced by the Civil Society Coalition on Oil in Uganda.

Read more coverage of the report’s findings on the BBC News website and visit PLATFORM’s Carbon Web project for the full press release and further analysis.