KAMPALA —EACOP route and the location of the associated facilities was selected during a multi-year process based on comprehensive feasibility studies, Mr. Martin Tiffen, Managing Director, East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Ltd has said.
Speaking during the Makerere University Petroleum and Geology Society (MPGS) Symposium, Mr. Tiffen said that the pipeline route does not go under Lake Victoria or cross any IUCN categorised sites, saying that all EACOP routes were agreed between East African leaders at a summit in April 2016, and the signature of a set of common principles known as the Intergovernmental Agreement between Uganda and Tanzania in May 2017.
He said a lot of falsehoods have been said including reports that the project is taking people’s land without compensation.
“We have pledged to be transparent in what we are doing and how we are managing these subjects, and we also have third-party audits to ensure that we are complying with the stringent IFC Performance Standards,” he said.
Established in February 2022, the EACOP company is overseeing the development of Uganda’s landmark oil export pipeline.
Since February 15, EACOP has embarked on a number of parallel activities, he said, mentioning land acquisition along the full right of way in both Uganda and Tanzania.
“This is now underway and will continue into early 2023. It is worth repeating that land acquisition is being done both in accordance with the laws of Uganda and Tanzania, and also in compliance with the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation.”
On the environment aspect, he said, the project has followed the classical hierarchy of “avoid, minimise, restore, offset.”
“We acknowledged that the project will have an impact on the communities and landscapes that it traverses, and we have committed to manage these on the same level as we do safety, the project itself and national content.”
“It’s worth noting that the main disturbance will be during the construction phase, as once in operation the pipeline will be buried along its entire 1,443-kilometre length, with topsoil and vegetation reinstated. People and animals will be able to freely cross wherever they want.”
On his part, Philippe Gruoeix, the General Manager, TotalEnergies E&P Uganda said his company and the joint venture partners are ready to continue with the projects according to plans, but that success will also depend on public support.
He said that they have given the affected persons several choices, including cash, land or houses, while others have been supported with businesses, contrary to claims of forceful evictions.
Meanwhile, university students taking oil and gas industry-related studies expressed worry that the current controversies about Uganda’s industry could affect their future if not handled carefully.
The students say that what drove them to those courses were the expectations they had about the success of the industry because, should it be disrupted, their dreams will be dashed.
The students and the university leaders gave their views at a dialogue with the oil and gas companies and the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, called by the Makerere University Petroleum and Geological Society to understand the basis of the ongoing debate.
Julius Mutabaazi, the past president of the society says that apart from the significant direct benefits to the economy by the industry, the projects have so far been helpful to students, in terms of offering them internship and employment opportunities.
The Students intend to gather and share adequate information about the industry and help make informed decisions. They say that their courses emphasize respect for the environment and that this gives them a reason to be concerned about the ongoing debate.
The current Society President, Rahma Nantongo says that some of them who visited the Tilenga projects were surprised at how much information the public and students in particular need to get.
Gloria Sebikari, corporate affairs manager at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda gave assurance that the refinery project is on course, but that according to plan, exporting was supposed to come ahead of refining.
The EACOP will transport crude oil from Kabaale, Hoima district to Tanga Port in Tanzania, covering a distance of 1,443 kilometres.
In Uganda, the EACOP project will cover 296 kilometres through ten (10) districts, impacting 3,792 PAPs on approximately 2,740 acres of land, in linear formation.