The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) of Tanzania have renewed their commitment to jointly cooperate in the regulation and monitoring of the design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Project.
The commitment was re-echoed during a joint five-day supervisory field visit to the Uganda section of the EACOP with a specific interest in areas that will host key support infrastructures like the pump stations, construction main camp and pump yards, and environmentally sensitive areas, and resettlement projects for the project affected persons.
This comes at the backdrop of the application for the construction license filed by the EACOP Company to both Uganda and Tanzanian governments at the beginning of last month, where the Government is required to respond within 180 days.
Mr Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), said the joint supervisory visit provided an opportunity to review what the two regulatory entities have achieved and what they need to do better going forward.
“The goal is to use all our efforts to ensure that our people benefit from this (EACOP) project and have a harmonised voice on aspects related to monitoring and regulation,” Mr Rubondo emphasised.
Eng Modestus Martin Lumato, the Director General of EWURA, revealed that the visit to the Ugandan section of the EACOP and the ongoing upstream activities for the Tilenga and the Kingfisher projects called for accelerated efforts to achieve project alignment between the upstream and midstream.
“With what we have seen in the ongoing construction works upstream, we shall expedite the processing of the necessary approvals for the construction of the EACOP to kick off,” said Eng Lumato shortly after completing the tour of the Kingfisher project in Kikuube.
During a review meeting for the visit at the PAU offices in Entebbe, the two entities committed to continue working closely in the review process for the construction approvals made by the EACOP Company.
“Our law (Tanzania) gives us 60 days, but our Customer Service Charter recommends 30 days from receipt of a complete application. We, therefore, plan to have the review process completed in the next 30 days before the award of approvals”, said Eng Gerald Maganga, the Director Petroleum at EWURA.
Unlike the Tanzanian law, the Ugandan law allows the licensing entity which in this case is the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to grant approval for a construction license within 180 days after application.
Mr Dozith Abeinomugisha, the Director of Midstream at the PAU, committed to harmonise the review process of approvals required for construction of the project with different timelines in the respective laws.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two parties signed in 2019 calls for enhancement of cooperation in promoting a harmonised regulatory framework for the EACOP Project, including harmonising the approval requirements processes, guidelines, inspection manuals, inspection checklist, rules, and any other requirement as may be deemed necessary.
The two parties further committed to ensuring that the National Content aspects are jointly monitored and retrospectively adhered to in both Uganda and Tanzania, establish closer and more regular contacts and promote cooperation in activities, safe operations that consider best industry practices, and the safety, health and environmental protection standards related to the EACOP Project.
Other areas that called for joint co-operation include demystifying the myths surrounding the EACOP that have brought the project in disrepute with a section of environmental lobby groups campaigning against it.
All the objectives of the MoU are pursued in accordance with the Intern Governmental Agreement (IGA), Host Government Agreement (HGA), and applicable laws, rules, and regulations of the Republic of Uganda and of the United Republic of Tanzania.
The five-day visit that started in Karagwe, Tanzania on 15 ended on 20 August 2022 with a visit to the operational areas in the Albertine Graben and a joint review meeting at Entebbe. A similar joint visit by the two regulatory entities is planned for the EACOP Tanzanian section that will be led by EWURA.
The mandate of the PAU to monitor and regulate the petroleum activities in Uganda while that of EWURA is to conduct technical and economic regulation of the mid and downstream petroleum sub-sector in Tanzania.