Minister accuses foreign banks of betrayal after withdrawing from EACOP financing

Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, addresses the 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition in Kampala. (Image: Courtesy)

Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, is unhappy with international financiers who have withdrawn from funding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) following pressure from climate change activists.

Addressing the 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition in Kampala, the minister said such financiers are complicit to Africa remaining in energy crisis.

She said there is need to exploit all available energy resources including oil and gas to enable East Africa saying it is an important aspiration for the East African region.

“We are closely watching international financing institutions that are burying their heads in the sand at a time when Africa is fighting energy poverty. I can assure you that we shall get the funding needed for the EACOP,” she said.

Her statement comes days after it emerged that another prospective funder- Standard Chartered Plc withdrew from funding the project flagging it as an environmental risk.

The construction of the EACOP – the world’s longest heated oil pipeline proposed by TotalEnergies – the French oil giant and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has already been delayed by the complexities and grievances regarding environmental concerns.

The minister wondered how the funders have pulled out of financing the construction of the EACOP that will run from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania yet they funded the oil and gas exploration.

“It is not fair for the financing institutions to pull out of our projects yet you financed the exploration. As Africa, we may not have enough finances but we are not poor. Africa should start looking for financing from alternative,” Ms Nankabirwa said.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Ms Irene Batebe, said there is a lot of oil potential in many parts of Uganda that are yet to be explored.

“We are looking at operational sustenance. So, we have an aggressive programme where we are exploring new basins. We are happy to report that we have encountered some prolific seepage in the Moroto-Kadam Basin.”

She revealed that Uganda has 88% drilling success with 85% of the Albertine Graben unlicensed while five blocks are up for grab in the second licensing round.

NJ Ayuk, an author who was the guest speaker encouraged African countries to become energy independent despite some funding challenges.  

“Wealthy countries want to decarbonise but Africa wants to industrialise. East Africa must use its resources to eradicate poverty. East Africa must continue on its mission to exploit its resources and keep moving, keep driving, keep exploring because it is through exploration that we shall make new discoveries of new resources,” he said.

The 2023 edition of the conference that started on Tuesday ends today Thursday, under the theme: “East Africa as a hub for Investment in Exploration of Petroleum Resources for Sustainable Energy and Socio-economic Development.”


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