Construction of crude oil pipeline to begin from Tanzania

Mr Martin Tiffen, the Manager East Africa Crude Oil Project says it is logical that the construction begins from Tanzania which has a largest land area to cover.

There will not be any construction project in the oil and gas industry that will take place until all affected persons have been compensated or resettled, Energy and Mineral Development Ministry reiterates.

This comes after Uganda and Tanzania and the oil and gas conglomerates on Sunday signed agreements that they said had given way for the projects to begin.

The projects include developments in the Kingfisher and Tilenga oil fields as well as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania.

After the agreements, the communiqué said that the parties could now go ahead and contract companies for the projects. 

But Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Dr Maria Goretti Kimono Kitutu, says every person affected will have to be compensated, either in cash or resettled with a new homestead, before construction of any project commences. 

She says it is not only about the compensation but that the activities must follow all local and international procedures including conserving the biodiversity.

The EACOP General Manager, Martin Tiffen, says the compensation process is ongoing and that survey, valuations and resettlement plans for land in the Albertine Grabben have been approved by government and implementation will start soon.

Mr Tiffen says that regarding the EACOP, they have not acquired any piece of land because the people have not been compensated yet.   

While EACOP managers reason that construction should start from Tanzania because it has the largest land area coverage of the pipeline, sources indicate that it decided that it starts from the Tanzanian side because of the less complicated land tenure system there compared to Uganda.

With Uganda’s laws that require prompt and adequate compensation before the project takes off, the decision to start from Tanzania will allow Uganda to mobilise the required resources for compensation.

The government has been verifying persons eligible for compensation and about 200 households will be displaced by the pipeline in Uganda, while up to 3,500 households will be economically displaced, meaning they will lose land, according to a report by Oxfam International.

According to Total, the completion of the Tilenga and EACOP projects will require acquisition of some 6,400 hectares.

For Tilenga and EACOP, this programme means relocating 723 primary residences and will affect 18,800 stakeholders, landowners and land users.   

Uganda also has to mobilise about Shs475b (US$ 130m) as part of her obligations towards the formation of EACOP in which it is a shareholder through the Uganda National Oil Company, (UNOC).

Last month, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development tabled before parliament a request for a loan but faced resistance from the MPS who cited the high debt ratios of the country. 

UNOC Chief Executive Officer, Proscovia Nabbanja, says that they hope following the signing of the agreements, the arms of government will move faster to secure the financing.    

The signing of the deals awakened calls on the government and the companies to disclose the details of the agreements concerning the whole extractive industry, including oil and gas. 

Citing parts of the constitution, on Monday, controversial lawyer, Hassan Male Mabirizi, gave the ministry of energy 21 days to make public the agreements or he petitions court. 

Other callers for more transparency have cited the provisions of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – a global initiative to which Uganda is a signatory. 

However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Robert Kasande, said the EITI and Uganda reached a common position on how much to disclose before Uganda signed up. 

Mr Kasande also dismissed a petition by a group of 38 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from Uganda and the DR Congo seeking to block implementation of the agreements. 

The organisations led by the African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), cited possible consequences like impoverishing the people in the affected areas, violation of laws on conservation of nature and the delayed passing of the EACOP Bill, among others. 

 But Mr Kasande said what the CSOs are presenting has already been handled.  


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