The East African nation of Uganda opening up 6 blocks of land for oil exploration in the Virunga region, The Times reported.
Ugandan authorities recently announced the 16 companies approved to bid for the concessions, including firms from Russia, South Africa, Australia, and the US.
The area up for exploration is in the Albertine Graben region, in the far west of the country near Congo. Environmental groups are protesting the decision by the government to move forward with oil exploration, arguing that the area’s delicate and unique wildlife will be harmed by oil production, stated US News.
The blocks up for auction border Lake Edward, which extends into the Virunga National Park in Congo.
Conservationists worry that with production just across the lake, it will make it “far more likely that there will be greater pressure to open up areas on the other side of the lake,” stated George Boden of the environmental group Global Witness.
Uganda first discovered oil in the region in 2006, and it hopes to have production online by 2020.