By Our Writer
French Energy giant and lead investor in the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), Total Energies, and Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development have separately published their critical responses to the now controversial EU Parliament resolution to suspend work on the over 1,400 km pipeline- describing the resolution as ignorant, ill-informed and devoid of democratic principles, the very value the EU Parliament said it was championing.
Patrick Pouyanné, CEO and chairman of TotalEnergies, In his letter to Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, said “If, as one might expect within the framework of contradictory debate respecting the fundamental principles of the institutions of our democracies, TotalEnergies had been consulted prior to the passing of this resolution, the Company could have informed the Parliament the inaccuracy of many elements which are based on serious and unfounded allegations. Unfortunately, it is now too late for this contradictory debate to take place as the European Parliament adopted this resolution without even hearing the Company.”
“TotalEnergies would like to point out that all partners are committed to putting environmental and biodiversity issues as well as the rights of the communities concerned at the centre of the project, in accordance with the most stringent international standards (IFC),” Pouyanne said.
“This project is a major development for Uganda and Tanzania, and we are doing our utmost to ensure that it is exemplary in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, economic and social progress, sustainable development and protecting the environment and human rights.”
The EACOP Partners have made great progress towards ensuring that first oil comes out of the ground in 2025. Besides, the resolution has been viewed as targeting only African projects as European projects go on unabated.
On her part, Ruth Nankabirwa, Uganda’s minister of Energy & Mineral Development, published a response describing the resolution as “containing several distortions, hearsay, and generalizations” and that “At the very least, it (EU Resolution) is a blatant display of limited knowledge about the realities of Uganda’s oil and gas projects.”
The statement said that the EU Parliament Resolution has not yet been officially relayed to the Government of Uganda (and their response is based on a copy posted on the EU Parliament website) but that once officially received the Government of Uganda will make a comprehended response.
The Ministry’s statement issued on behalf of the Government of Uganda, made a 10-point clarification:
- The selection of the EACOP route followed an evaluation of three routes: (i) Hoima – Lokichar – Lamu and (ii) Hoima-Mombasa, both in Kenya, and (iii) Hoima-Tanga in Tanzania. The evaluation was based on best pipeline routing principles, including social, environmental, safety and economic considerations. The Hoima – Tanga route was selected as the best route for Uganda after careful evaluation based on the routing principles. In addition, the Ministry said, Uganda has up-to-date stringent laws on the environment and protected areas, which are strictly followed in developing oil and gas projects.
- The EACOP project, which is the subject of the Resolution, has been designed to minimize irremediably harming the livelihoods of farmers, fisher folk and tourism business owners who depend upon the region’s rich natural resources. A specific Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRlA) was therefore undertaken, and targeted measures were put in place lo address any potential adverse effects; on land-based livelihoods as part of the project. Thus, the Ministry strongly disagrees with the misleading narrations of human rights abuses detailed in the Resolution.
- Compensations and relocations are being undertaken in accordance with national law, cultural and traditional livelihood practices of the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and in compliance with international standards, including the International Finance Corporation and Equator Principles. Farming communities have been provided equitable arable land to continue their traditional income-generating practices, while others have been skilled to prepare them for jobs in upcoming infrastructure projects and other related activities. There is, therefore, verifiable evidence that the livelihoods of project affected persons have improved because of the projects.
- Commercializing the country’s oil and gas will also provide funds for the country’s development and investment in more renewable energy sources and the achievement of energy access for all Ugandans. In addition, Liquefied Petroleum Gas from the project will be key in providing a cleaner cooking energy source that will save forest cover, which is being lost rapidly lo charcoal (burning) and (as) firewood.
- Regarding impact, the EACOP in Uganda affected 3,648 PAPs (not 100,000 or so as claimed by the EU Parliament), of which 2,662 have already signed compensation agreements and 1,977 have been fully paid. The project is also constructing 183 replacement houses for the PAPs who opted for physical resettlement. Contrary to the claims in the EU Parliament’s Resolution, the compensation process is progressing well, and no land has been acquired before fair and adequate compensation payment.
- Ugandans are already reaping benefits from the progress of the oil activities, with 160,000 people expected to be employed at the peak of activities. Currently, 5,000 people are employed, of which 94 per cent are Ugandans. ln addition, international development partners such as the World Bank are supporting targeted skilling and infrastructure developments where oil and gas activities are taking place to enable the citizens and communities maximally benefit from the sector’s activities.
- In terms of contracts, since February 2022, when the Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) were announced, the TolalEnergies and CNOOC (U) Ltd., through the established tendering processes, have awarded contracts totaling about US$6.8 billion, of which an estimated US$ 1.73 Billion (25 per cent) have been awarded to Ugandan companies. Uganda’s oil and gas journey is progressing well, and the sector is expected to significantly contribute lo the country’s socio-economic transformation and overall development.
- The Ministry wishes to emphasize that the oil projects have been designed to technologically generate the lowest possible carbon footprint. Overall, the projects fall within the category of “low emission.” The carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emission per barrel for Uganda’s upstream and midstream projects is estimated to be 20-45 kgCO2e. This is well below the global average of 70-100 kgCO2e.
- Uganda’s recoverable oil resources are currently estimated at 1.4 billion barrels. Assuming an average of 30 kgCO2e per barrel, the total emissions are estimated at 42 mTCO2e over the production period of 25 years which is an average of 1 .68mT per year (not 34mT as stated in the Resolution). More so, 80 per cent of Uganda’s energy is from renewable sources such as hydro-power, solar and biomass. The country has been promoting other clean energy initiatives with many development partners, including the Deutsche Gesellschafts fur lnternationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). Promoting and manufacturing zero-emission vehicles (EVs) by Kiira Motors Corporation, a state-owned car manufacturer, is among the key priorities Government is curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
The statement said, “The Ministry would like to thank the President of the Republic of Uganda, for his unwavering support and commitment to the oil and gas projects and the oil companies for implementing the various project components per the existing laws and best international practices. The Ministry also commends the Parliament of Uganda for the constructive debates over time which has enabled the oil and gas projects to reach this far in the country. Lastly, for the varying support and encouragement from the concerned Ugandan citizens from the day the resolutions were published.”