The private company selected as lead investor in a planned $3.5 billion oil pipeline between Uganda and Tanzania could receive up to a 60 percent stake in the project, a top Ugandan government official said on Thursday.

Tanzania and Uganda plan to finish building a crude oil pipeline by 2020 to ship crude from Uganda’s oilfields in the Albertine rift basin. Securing a partnership with a private company is key to the project.

“It (the stake) could be as far as 60 percent for the lead investor. And for us – Uganda and Tanzania – we would share the rest,” Peter Lokeris, Uganda’s minister of state for mineral development, told Reuters.
“So far we have 16 applications from companies,” he said on the sidelines of a Nordic-African business conference in Oslo. He declined to name the companies that had applied.

Uganda also plans to build a $2.5 billion refinery so it can earn more from its oil resources, which it discovered in 2006.

Wrangling over taxes and the viability of the refinery have delayed commercial production, which is now expected to start between 2019-2020.

The Ugandan energy ministry said in July it had ended talks on the refinery with a group led by Russia’s Rostec Global after the company made additional demands to a deal reached in May.

The ministry said then that it had begun negotiations on the refinery with an alternate bidder, a consortium led by South Korea’s SK Engineering . “We have opened another round of discussion. There are 21 companies so far. Our discussions are bilateral,” Lokeris said on Thursday, declining to identify the companies involved.