EU legislators raise more fears against oil pipeline project
The European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, is today slated to vote on the motion to stop plans to construct the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) on account of the human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania.
The motion also seeks to exert pressure on the French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron’s government to strong-arm the French oil giant, Total Energies SE, to halt development of the $3.8b (Shs14 trillion) Greenfield project.
Total Energies SE is the parent company of Total Energies EP which is developing oil fields in Nwoya and Buliisa districts, and Total Holdings International B.V, which holds majority shareholding of 62 percent in the EACOP holding company.
Discussion on the motion kicked off last evening. The MPs–some basing on lies and factual inaccuracies– strongly spoke against the project claiming the wanton arrest of local journalists, human rights defenders and civil society actors speaking negatively about the project.
Italy’s Francesca Donato, co-mover of the motion, in her submission said Total Energies SE should halt development of the project for at least one year and assess another route with less environmental footprint.
Several MPs raised, among other issues, environmental destruction, dispossessing of project affected persons (PAPs) along the project right of way in Uganda and Tanzania of their of land, curbing carbon emissions, human rights violations, and President Museveni’s 36-stay in power.
The President’s long stay, one MP said, is a threat to democracy and with petro-dollars coming if the country started commercial oil production through the pipeline, the future is bleak.
The legislators also cited previous run-ins between the government’s NGO board and civil society organisations involved in the extractive sector.
For instance, on February 23, the NGO Oil and Gas Region Human Rights Defenders Association and 253 defenders and affected persons petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission calling for an end to the surveillance and intimidation.
The MPs further cited several petitions by local and international NGOs, and court cases against Total Energies EP, to international banking institutions to halt development of the project.
Since signing off of the key project agreements in April 2021, NGOs stepped up a massive campaign to derail the project.
The campaign went into overdrive after February 1 when the joint venture partners—Total Energies SE, Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), China’s CNOOC, and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation—announced Final Investment Decision to invest $10b in the Uganda oil project.
Months leading to FID, local authorities in the oil districts in the Albertine Graben had been cracking the whip on the NGOs but during the FID ceremony, President Museveni with guidance from the Total Energies SE, chief executive Patrick Pouyanne directed that the NGOs be allowed to work freely to avoid stoking more negative flames.
The EACOP will run 1,443km from the oil fields in Hoima in mid-western Uganda to the Indian Ocean Tanga Port in Tanzania.
The Uganda pipeline sections stretches for 296km in 10 districts while the Tanzania section runs for 1,147km through 25 districts and eight regions.
All together—in Uganda and Tanzania—there are 30,000 households whose land is touched by the project. But in terms of PAPs there are 3,900 in Uganda, and 9,000 in Tanzania, majority of whom are economically impacted; whose portions of gardens are touched, but not displaced entirely.
Oil pipeline in Uganda, Tanzania
The Uganda pipeline sections stretches for 296km in 10 districts while the Tanzania section runs for 1,147km through 25 districts and eight regions. All together—in Uganda and Tanzania—there are 30,000 households whose land is touched by the project.
But in terms of PAPs there are 3,900 in Uganda, and 9,000 in Tanzania, majority of whom are economically impacted; whose portions of gardens are touched, but not displaced entirely.