Tullow Oil Uganda has appointed experienced lawyer Mariam Nampeera Mbowa as new Managing Director after Tullow Oil plc recalled former MD Jimmy Mugerwa to its headquarters in London, UK.
Mariam has vast experience in the oil and gas sector and has been working with the company for about seven years as its lead counsel for both the company’s operations in Uganda and Kenya.
As reported earlier on Monday, one of the reasons for the recall of Mugerwa to London is as a result of the bad press he has been attracting as Dfcu bank’s board chairman. This, according to insiders, has been tarnishing Tullow Oil’s international image.
By appointing Mariam to replace him, the company thinks its image will be redeemed but also hopes she will help the company manage its farm down in Uganda, the processes undergoing negotiations with government. The company recently said it was frustrated negotiations were taking too long to be completed in the transaction worth about US$900 million.
Mariam holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Makerere University and Masters of Law, Commercial and Corporate Law from London School of Economics and Political Science. She also holds a diploma in petroleaum policy and management from PETRAD-Stavanger, Norway. She has also worked with Shell and Mobil Uganda Limited.
Before his recall to London, Mugerwa had been under pressure to stop publicity coming from DFCU Bank after it acquired Crane Bank Limited with no success. Last month while addressing guests at the 3rd annual Ugandan Bankers’ Conference urged government to reign on local media that reports negatively about him and DFCU bank.
Mugerwa got the good job because of his experience as a top manager at Shell and his expertise in government relations, which Tullow needed badly.
Mugerwa was appointed Tullow Oil General Manager when the partners within the Lake Albert Basin were about to embark on a major oil development which would see Uganda enter the league of oil producing nations
However Mugerwa’s stewardship at Tullow Oil Uganda has not achieved much, with the farm down facing challenges.
As chairman Dfcu bank, Mugerwa helped the bank to acquire Crane Bank Limited, which has since become a controversial move, leading to the resignation former MD Juma Kisaame.
The investigation by the Auditor General and the probe by Uganda Parliament on the seven banks closed by the Bank of Uganda, unmasked Dfcu bank as a player in fraudulent transactions that led to the purchase of assets of Crane Bank Limited and Global Trust Bank Uganda in January 2017 and 2014 respectively.
The bad press that followed Dfcu and Bank of Uganda left the chairman of the Dfcu board and other top bank management open to professional criticism over their judgement and decisions taken.
Mugerwa has also a number of managerial positions within Shell’s business across Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and the Netherlands – and had not attracted such negative press until he landed in Uganda. The negative press also has been largely about his association with Dfcu and less about Tullow Oil. This could actually inform Tullow Oil’s decision to transfer him, and offer the captainship of Tullow to a new executive.
Mugerwa holds a BSc in Agriculture from Makerere University and a MSc in Agricultural Chemicals from the University of Wales. He is married with two children.
Mugerwa’s recall to London also comes at the time when Tullow Oil has announced a major oil discovery in the Orinduik block in Guyana, raising expectations it will move to develop a field in the oil-rich South American country. He hasn’t had a good relations with Kampala as it is reported that at one of the meetings at State House, Mugerwa was chased out by President Museveni.
The discovery in the closely watched Jethro-1 well follows a number of exploration successes by Exxon Mobil in the neighbouring Stabroek block in recent years.
Tullow Chief Executive Paul McDade said the well is expected to hold over 100 million barrels of oil, in excess of expectations. The company will start drilling a second well, Joe-1, later this month.
“This substantial and high value oil discovery in Guyana is an outcome of the significant technical and commercial focus which has underpinned the reset of our exploration portfolio. It is an excellent start to our drilling campaign in the highly prolific Guyana oil province. We look forward to drilling both the Joe and Carapa prospects in our 2019 drilling campaign and the material follow-up exploration potential in both the Orinduik and Kanuku licences,” he said.