The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has disregarded the resolutions of the European parliament on Uganda’s oil and gas projects saying the process was done in consultation with relevant lead agencies and other stakeholders.
The European Parliament recently criticised a proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) expressing “grave concerns” around human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania linked to the Lake Albert project, thus, calling for TotalEnergies to consider an alternative route.
In response, NEMA says the consultations in the development of the oil and gas industry included conducting public hearings for all three projects giving adequate opportunity to all stakeholders to provide input including into the development of resettlement action plans.
The projects include Tilenga, EACOP and Kingfisher in Buliisa and Nwoya, Hoima and Kikuube districts respectively.
The Authority says in regard to loss of land and livelihood, the Environment and Social Impact review process, comprehensively assessed all social impacts related to the projects and the developers were mandated to develop and implement resettlement action plans in accordance with the laws of Uganda, IFC standards and Equator principles.
Although oil and gas activities may have an impact on Murchison Falls Conservation Area, NEMA says adequate mitigation measures including biodiversity offset mechanisms have been put in place.
It adds that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) process being mindful of this, endeavours to minimise land take from communities and sensitive and protected areas as much as possible.
“ The Environment and Social Impact Assessments followed the time tested and conventionally agreed principles of the Environment and Social Impact mitigation hierarchy which involves avoidance of sensitive eco-systems, mitigating manageable impacts including reducing of impacts, environmental restoration as well as offsetting of residual impacts.”
Adding: “Only 0.05% of the 3,000km2 of the Murchison Falls National Park will be utilised by oil and gas activities. All the other infrastructure including the refinery and Central Processing Facility will be located outside the park.”
NEMA adds that as part of the ESIA review process regarding the carbon footprint for the oil and gas projects, estimates guided mitigation measures to be implemented to ensure low carbon emission pathways.
The environmental body says national grid power will be used to meet part of the energy needs of the projects to reduce carbon intensity of the project, no routine flaring during normal operations, recovery of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to reduce hydrocarbon burning for energy production and vapour recovery units located at Central Processing Facility to process generated gasses will be constructed.
It also says there will be no unnecessary idling on non-road mobile machinery plant and project vehicles, there will be regular servicing and maintenance of plants, ue of centralised power generation to minimise diesel generators during construction, offsetting net residual emissions through tree planting projects, provision of cheap LPG to transition the economy from use of biomass energy which is currently at 88% of total primary energy consumption.
NEMA says this will significantly reduce pressure on Uganda’s forest cover besides other net zero emission initiatives that will reportedly be explored including payment for ecosystem services.
The Authority reveals that Uganda’s overall carbon footprint is low standing at 0.1 metric tonnes of carbon per person per year as compared to the average for Europe at 6.98 metric tonnes of carbon per person per year.
In the statement, NEMA says using avoidance approach to determine the routing for the pipeline, many sensitive ecosystems including all Ramsar sites were avoided emphasising that the pipeline will only cross one central forest reserve as opposed to the EU parliament resolution that claims that EACOP will traverse protected areas in Uganda and Tanzania.
“The pipeline will be buried, coated to prevent rusting and has inbuilt automated leakage detection mechanisms. In the unlikely event of oil spill emergency, a national oil spill contingency plan has already been developed and launched by Government. Additionally, all oil companies are required by law to have put in place oil spill contingency plans.”
NEMA says it is on this background that the Authority assures Ugandans, her stakeholders and the global community that the environment and social impacts of oil and gas projects in Uganda were comprehensively assessed and adequate mitigation measures put in place.
It adds that it continues to closely monitor the operations of the oil and gas companies to ensure compliance.