The Africa, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly sitting in Maputo City, Mozambique on Wednesday November 2, voted to let Uganda proceed with developing the much sought-after East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).
The ACP-EU resolution now waters down an earlier stance by the European Parliament that had expressed “grave concern” around alleged human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania, linked to the Lake Albert project.
The plan covers upstream investments at Tilenga and Kingfisher in Buliisa and Kikuube districts respectively, with the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) running from Hoima to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.
The CPA-EU Assembly, which brings together an equal number of elected MPs from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and Members of the European Parliament, made changes to “Operative Clause 5” of its Resolution on the Global Challenges of Climate Change Cooperation for Adaptation and Migration.
The resolution was passed ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for November 18 in Egypt, and initially called for a ban on all new oil exploration projects.
“…achieving the 1.5°C target, requires that no new oil gases fields be approved, nor any new coal mine or extensions to existing ones,” it read in part.
However, Uganda’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, led efforts in which he convinced member states to make changes in the resolution to allow a global “just transition” to renewable energy.
The parliament in the new amendment as such “acknowledged the importance of fair phase out and gradual transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, stressing that achieving the 1.5 ° C target requires the drastic scaling up of renewable energy and supporting a global just transition.”
Mr Tayebwa said while announcing the news that the Ugandan MPs “burnt the mid night candle” lobbying for the amendment.
He says the amendment was tabled on the floor on Wednesday by Tanzanian Deputy Speaker mr Musa Azzan Zungu and Mr Edmund Hinkson of Barbados.
Mr Tayebwa described the vote as a “big win for EACOP.”
It comes nearly two months after the European Union Parliament passed a resolution on “violations of human rights in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in fossil fuels projects” in which they called for the suspension of the pipeline project in Uganda and Tanzania.
The EU decision was widely condemned by Uganda and Tanzania as “imperialists” and unfounded.
“Construction of EACOP may lead to the displacement of 100,000 people,” it said, “without proper guarantees of adequate compensation. Payments to farmers are too low for them to buy comparable land to continue,” the European Parliament added.
TotalEnergies, the architect of the project had also rejected complaints about Lake Albert and its environmental impact.
It said the project is essential because of the world’s ongoing need for hydrocarbons.
TotalEnergies’ partner on the project, CNOOC Uganda, also defended the project.
Two oil rigs for both CNOOC Uganda and TotalEnergies arrived at Mombasa port and were transported to places of operations.
“We are committed to delivering first oil to Uganda and there’s no turning back,” the Chinese company said.
Mr Tayebwa, revealed that the Ugandan MPs held a fruitful engagement with EU MPs on issues of climate change and also registered “our disappointment with their recent unilateral resolution on EACOP.”
Mr Malte Lenz Gallée, a Member of the European Parliament who was also part of a four-member EU Parliamentarians team that visited Uganda at the end of July 2022 on a fact-finding mission accepted the outcome of the ACP-EU vote.
“The amendment by Barbados and Tanzania was carried and now we have a less resolution addressing the needs of the future generations. We lost it,” said Gallée who fights for climate protection and for a sustainable industry.
The EACOP measuring 1,443km will transport crude oil from Kabaale village in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania before it is shipped for refining abroad.