The Ugandan government announced on Tuesday that it had authorized 16 international firms to bid for oil exploration rights in six blocks, said US News and World Report.

The companies listed include firms from Russia, the U.S., South Africa and Australia.

George Boden of the watchdog group Global Witness has protested that “all the blocks overlap with environmentally protected areas, the government must at a minimum publish information on the criteria for selecting companies — including what their environmental and social track record looks like”. The government “should also publish the true owners of these companies and the contracts they sign so that the public can see what kind of deals the government has negotiated and who will benefit from them”, he added.

Previously Uganda had announced that the country contains undiscovered deposits at over 8 billion barrels, reported AllAfrica.com. A senior official at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development added that this would increase the country’s oil production from 6.5 billion barrels to over 15 billion barrels.