Heritage Oil

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In 1991, Tony Buckingham reached a deal with Angolan state oil company SONANGOL and Ranger Oil, which gave him a 10 per cent share in the Ranger-operated Block 4 oilfield off the Angolan coast. The 10 per cent was originally assigned to Branch Energy Ltd, which turned it over to Heritage Oil and Gas, which was registered in the Bahamas.

A separate agreement provided for the creation of Ranger Oil West Africa Ltd, which would be 51 per cent owned by Ranger Oil and 49 per cent owned by Heritage Oil and Gas. The new company was intended to provide technical and advisory services to SONANGOL.[1]

In January 1993, UNITA over-ran Soyo, an important supply base for Ranger and other oil companies. UNITA refused requests for access. Buckingham discussed the issue with other oil companies, and his associate Simon Mann suggested an approach to Eeben Barlow's private military company Executive Outcomes for help. A proposal to retake Soyo was agreed with the Angolan Government.[2] Executive Outcomes began its assault on Soyo on February 16 1993, and succeeded in taking the town, which as however, retaken by UNITA after EO's withdrawal some six weeks later.[3]

Democratic Republic of Congo

A source in Congo told me that Heritage currently hires UPDF, RPA, and MLC soldiers to protect their concessions from rebels and dissident FARDC soldiers. Another source who works in the oil industry told me that Heritage has very poor drilling techniques and are lucky if they strike oil making them hazardous to the local environment. Sources in Congo have also said that, in years past, Heritage has influenced much of the fighting in Ituri.[4]


Heritage received an oil producing licence and a refinery contractfrom the Kurdistan Regional Government on 2 October 2007.

Paul Atherton, chief financial officer, said the deal would not compromise the company's ambitions to work with the government in Baghdad, where some politicians have voiced displeasure at the Kurdish law.
"We like to think we have good relationships with both sides and that we will not be blacklisted," he said. Heritage had provided technical training for both Kurdish and Baghdad-based oil officials. Mr Atherton expected the deal to be validated by the Baghdad government in due course.[5]

The Financial Times story on the deal went on to note Tony Buckingham's history of links to Executive Outcomes and Sandline International.

Industry sources said the status of Heritage in Iraq could be boosted because of Mr Buckingham's connection to Tim Spicer, who ran Sandline and whose company Aegis provides security services to the US government in Iraq.


Heritage shares a block with Tullow Oil on Lake Albert near Rukwanzi Island, in an area where oil prospects contributed to rising border tensions between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.

The island, which is claimed by both countries, was occupied by Congolese troops in late August. Tensions in the area began rising in July when an army unit from Congo ( Kinshasa ) captured four Ugandan soldiers it said had strayed toward the Congolese west bank of Lake Albert . In early August, Congolese soldiers attacked an oil exploration barge belonging to Heritage Oil and killed a British seismic engineering survey team leader, Carl Nefdt. The Ugandan army retaliated and a Congolese soldier was also killed.
Since then, tension has continued to mount along that part of the Uganda-Congo frontier that runs through the 160 kilometer lake, which has never been precisely defined. Rukwanzi Island is located close to the scene of the clashes at the southern tip of Lake Albert near Block 3A, which is jointly owned by Dublin-listed Tullow and operator Heritage. Oil reserves have been discovered beneath the eastern, Ugandan shores of Lake Albert in the Great Rift Valley , with production slated to start in 2009.[6]

BBC Monitoring reported rumours of Angolan troops in eastern Congo in September 2007.

Besides keeping an eye on the Congolese insurgents, the Angolans are reportedly in hand to defend oil exploration along the border with Uganda.
Brief clashes erupted mid-August between Congolese and Ugandan forces over the murder of a Briton working for Canada's Heritage Oil that is undertaking the exploration. Uganda has claimed that the oil-rich Rukwanzi Island on Lake Albert lies within its national territory, but DRCongo has rejected the assertion.
Despite the clashes, there was no mention of an Angolan presence. It is however significant to note that on 4 April 2003, a Berlin-based daily Die Tagaszeitung claimed that Heritage Oil was mulling "enlisting peacekeepers from Angola" to "ensure the security of oil exploration" in the Great Lakes region.
A 9 August 2007 report by the privately-owned Congolese newspaper, Le Potentiel, put the Lake Albert basin oil potential at some one billion barrels. Heritage Oil has signed agreements with both Uganda and the DRCongo.[7]

On 24 September 2007 troops from the UN mission MONUC seized a Heritage Oil boat which they claimed had strayed over the Congolese side of the lake.[8]




Directors and Management

Former directors

Former employees


  1. Making a Killing: How Corporations Use Armed Force to Do Business, by Madelaine Drohan, Random House Canada, 2003, p200.
  2. Making a Killing: How Corporations Use Armed Force to Do Business, by Madelaine Drohan, Random House Canada, 2003, pp205-207.
  3. Bloodsong, by Jim Hooper, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2003, pp42-54.
  4. Update on the Congo, by David Barouski, ZNet, 25 July 2006.
  5. COMPANIES - EUROPE: Heritage agrees Kurdish oil contract, by Dino Mahtani, Financial Times, 3 October 2007.
  6. Congo Withdraws Troops from Disputed Island, by Deb Kelly, International Oil Daily, 17 October 2007.
  7. Analysis: Angola's alleged presence in DRCongo may fuel tension in Great Lakes, by Charles Bigirimana, BBC Monitoring, 20 September 2007.
  8. Uganda: UN mission in DRCongo probes seizure of Canadian oil vessel, BBC Monitoring Africa, 27 September 2007.
  9. Heritage Oil Corporation announces new Chairman and Chief Executive OfficerCNW Group, 6 October 2006.