NEMA approves ESIA Certificate for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline

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An oil pipeline being buried underground.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) yesterday (Thursday), issued a certificate of approval to Total East Africa Midstream B.V, for the Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Project.

The EACOP is a 1,443km crude oil export infrastructure that will transport Uganda’s crude oil from Kabaale Village in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District in Uganda to the Chongoleani peninsula near Tanga in Tanzania.

This major export system, (296km in Uganda and 1,147km in Tanzania), comprises a 24-inch insulated buried pipeline, six pumping stations (two in Uganda and four in Tanzania) and a marine export terminal.

This certificate of approval is specific to the Ugandan section of the project. Approval for the Tanzanian section was issued on November 29, 2019.

ESIAs are undertaken to define and evaluate the potential social, health, human rights and environmental impacts of a project; and subsequently avoid these impacts where possible or identify adequate measures to mitigate the potential negative impacts on the environment and society as well as maximise and enhance the projects benefits.

The ESIA studies for the EACOP were conducted between 2017 and 2018 and covered extensive physical, biological and social baselines as well as stakeholder engagements.

As required by the National Environment Act and in fulfillment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, the first EACOP project report was submitted to NEMA for review on January 15, 2019.

NEMA then undertook comprehensive review of the ESIA report.

The review initially included the consultation/engagement with 20 Lead Agencies including; the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD), Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), Ministry of Waster and Environment (MWE), Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEDPD), the Petroleum Midstream Department in MEMD.

Others are the local governments of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Rakai and Kyotera.

The public, including persons specifically affected by the project, were consulted on the EACOP project through a public disclosure regime – which included provision of written information on the project and ESIA (in English and various local languages from the project area of influence); radio and television announcements and talk shows; and stakeholder engagement meetings in the 10 pipeline districts at selected sub-counties.

The ESIA public disclosure was followed by public hearings organised by the PAU in partnership with NEMA on October 21, 23 and 25; 2019, in Kakumiro, Mubende and Rakai districts.

Having captured all the key issues that arose during the review process, NEMA communicated these to the developer of the EACOP project (Total East Africa Midstream – BV) to address those issues in the ESIA report.

Having addressed the issues, the developer submitted the final Environment Impact Assessment Report to NEMA on August 7, 2020.

NEMA has reviewed the resubmitted ESIA and now issued the Certificate of Approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Statement for the EACOP Project.

NEMA Executive Director, Dr Tom Okurut, remarked: “NEMA will monitor the project in collaboration with Lead Agencies and key stakeholders to ensure compliance with the certificate’s conditions of approval. Monitoring is a continuous process and will be undertaken during the construction, operation and decommissioning phases. This we shall do to ensure that the health, safety and security of the environment, communities and workers.”

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline will unlock East Africa’s potential by attracting investors to explore opportunities in the region.

The General Manager EACOP project, Mr Martin Tiffen said: “This is a significant milestone for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project and is the result of several years of collaborative work with many specialists and stakeholders to reach this point.”

Adding: “The issuance of the EACOP ESIA certificate is a significant milestone for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project and the country as it brings us closer to the realization of the Final Investment Decision and the subsequent development of the oil and gas sector in Uganda.”

The Project will yield substantial Foreign Direct Investment in Uganda and Tanzania during the construction phase.

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