CNOOC, PAU allay environmental destruction fears in oil, gas activities

Mr Andrew Otuba, the Senior Field Environmental Officer at China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). (Image: Courtesy)

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) – a contracted operator of the Kingfisher oil project in Kikuube District, Bunyoro Region says an environmental assessment has been carried out by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and several frameworks have been put in place to facilitate the monitoring and management of environmental and social aspects arising from oil and gas activities.

This is after environmental activists took to social media under the hashtag ‘#StopEACOP’ pointing at the negative effects of the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

Mr Andrew Otuba, the Senior Field Environmental Officer at CNOOC, says the corporation is closely following measures that were laid down after the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the oil and gas activities in the Albertine Graben to minimise adverse effects on the environmental during and after the construction of the EACOP.

The measures were undertaken between 2010 and 2013 and approved by Cabinet in July 2015.

Mr Otuba adds that in addition to this, is the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan that was launched this year (2022).

He says an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was carried out at Kingfisher with support from NEMA, based on international standards stressing that the priority of environmental management is always to minimise adverse impacts and enhance the desirable impacts.

Mr Otuba emphasises that to ensure that there is no leak, the pipeline is designed with a sufficient wall thickness and that it will be buried to avoid external interference.

“It will be laid with a fibre optical cable that will detect any leakage or intrusion in the right of way of the pipeline,” he reveals.

However, environmental activists are objected to construction of the EACOP project with one of their platforms dubbed ‘Stop EACOP’ posted on their twitter handle opposing the project.

“…It is becoming apparent that this pipeline is an environmental headache, an economic nightmare and cancer that needs to be stopped. #Stop EACOP.” Reads the tweet.

In response to the anti-EACOP social media posts, the Government of Uganda through its Twitter handle said no amount of propaganda can stop the project from progressing because Africa which is responsible for less than 6% of greenhouse gas pollution needs to use its resources to develop just like other countries.

Mr Ali Ssekatawa, the Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) tweeted saying the EACOP project is worth moving on for the benefit of the East African countries.

“The EACOP has the full backing of the 300 million people of East Africa. From the industrial revolution, Africa is not the polluter. The largest pipeline network is laid under European/American and Canadian land/sea bed.”

In his opinion article on the “Environment Issues in Oil and Gas” series Dr Joseph Kobusheshe, the Director Environment, Health, Safety and Security at the PAU says protests against the EACOP project do not hold water.

He says according to the United States Environment Protection Agency, the United States and European Union bloc (including the United Kingdom that exited the bloc in 2020), which constitute about 10% of world’s population, were responsible for about a quarter (25%) of the global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industrial processes in 2014.

“Ironically, the international environmental activists and media making the most “noise” about stopping Uganda’s oil projects are from these countries,” he says.

As all such continues to happen, CNOOC is currently executing its duties in Kingfisher as earth and drainage works progress to ready the project for the 2025 first oil.

The Kingfisher Development Area (KFDA) covers the Kingfisher field in Kikuube district with plans for future tie-in of Mpuuta-Nzizi-Waraga fields in Kaiso-Tonya, Hoima district.

The project includes such facilities as development of a Central Processing Facility (CPF) with a capacity of 40,000 barrels of oil per day, 31 wells that comprise 11 injectors and 20 producers to be drilled on four well pads, 19 kilometres of flow-lines to connect the fields to the CPF and a 46-kilometre, 12-inch feeder pipeline from CPF at Buhuka to the export hub and refinery at Kabaale in Hoima district.

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