OPINION: Naysayers about our oil projects will choke on their vomit ~By Deo Otim
Lately, there has been a lot of exchange and dispute about the different oil projects the country is undertaking from different individuals both on the local and international scene, coined in protest of a rather would be a feasible project that will ramp up a lot of livelihoods if its progress is registered, the oil and gas sector has been substantial for developing-countries as a direct enabler of socio-economic transformation and growth globally, coupled with enormous benefits as there is.
To others its politically motivated to bash all successes in place due to different shades of opinion, one can hardly justify this cause but as is human to blunder, one would simply anticipate a mindset shift that would blindly not lead them to recuse themselves from the naivety of a seemingly to them a good bad.
Oppositionists have been continuously insisting that the oil activities have yielded nothing of interest to Ugandans citing gross human rights violations, and destruction of livelihoods and biodiversity yet it’s the slightest of truth considering the already existing beneficiaries who were primary residents from the different areas where the projects are being undertaken.
Approximately 1.4 billion of Uganda’s 6.5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, located mostly at the western border with the DRC are estimated to be economically recoverable.
French firm TotalEnergies, and CNOOC, hold licenses to develop these resources. In February 2022, TotalEnergies EP Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Limited, the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) announced that they had reached the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the upstream oil production projects and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Developing the oil sector requires several billion dollars of infrastructure investment to build and support a refinery, two central processing facilities, and the 1,445 km EACOP – the world’s longest heated pipeline.
Uganda, Tanzania, and oil companies on Tuesday, February 1, 2021, signed the long-awaited Final Investment Decision (FID) which paved a way for massive investment in Uganda’s oil and gas sector making international oil companies French Total Energies and China’s CNOOC the key investors with the governments of Uganda and Tanzania as the client’s stakeholders.
H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of the Republic of Uganda and Tanzania’s Vice president Dr, Phillip Mango who represented H.E Samia Hassan Suluhu, the president of the Republic of Tanzania witnessed the signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) an enabler of the next development and construction phases and commencement of commercial oil production.
Achieving the Uganda oil FID, led to the escalation of coordination, delivery promptly of equipment to the site, local participation, and approvals, and led to continuous support by the government of Uganda to the oil companies to execute their work. The process has also allowed governments positive action and funds have been mobilised.
The Oil industry has thus far positively impacted the economy through various programmes, Ugandans have already got jobs, and close to 1,600 jobs have been earmarked to be created as well as provision of goods and services to the industry which will expand Uganda and Tanzania’s tax base.
The signing of the crucial Final Investment Decision (FID) by the licensed companies which unlocked an investment of between US$15-20 billion in Uganda’s oil and gas projects signified financing the development of Uganda’s oil discoveries and build a pipeline that will turn the landlocked East African nation into a significant crude oil exporter by TotalEnergies EP Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Limited, Uganda National Oil Company, and EACOP Ltd.
Following the FID signing, ill-intentioned activists transparently and agreeably in Uganda and other parts of the world started a negative campaign, to curtail the progress in Uganda’s oil and gas developments and the country’s socio-economic growth and development which sought to deny Ugandans and the East African region the benefits and opportunities brought about by the oil and gas sector.
One of the oil projects under attack is the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), the activists raised contentious issues on the Environmental impact of oil and gas projects, alleged poor governance (politics), and Projected misuse of oil and gas revenue, however, Uganda’s oil and gas resources are being developed responsibly and sustainably to create lasting value for all Ugandans.
EU Parliament recently raised serious questions about the actions of French energy giant TotalEnergies in Uganda, with Members of the European Parliament (MEP) saying the oil pipeline project has led to evictions and arrests.
Government is conscious of the environmental, social, and governance issues associated with the petroleum industry, and has put in place adequate measures to address any potential negative impacts and harness the opportunities.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) by Total E&P project is one of the midstream commercialisation projects for Uganda’s oil and gas industry the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world at 1,443 km, running from Kabaale in Hoima District to Tanga Port in Tanzania.
Total E & P has 72% of the 1,443km pipeline, Uganda has 15% shareholding, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) owns 8%, Tanzania’s stake is 5%, and Uganda’s interest in the pipeline is managed by the Uganda National Oil Company while the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation oversees Tanzania’s interests.
The government has instigated a range of mitigating measures and is ensuring the development is safe and the most technologically sophisticated of its kind to be built globally, placing a robust regulatory regime and several laws passed including the Petroleum Upstream (Exploration, Development, and Production) Act and Midstream (Refining, Conversion, Transmission, and Midstream storage) Act, that came into force in 2013 together with these corresponding regulations in 2016.
The ESIA for Kingfisher, Tilenga, and the EACOP projects were done following the laws of Uganda and in full consideration of and with due regard to all the agreements that Uganda is a party to, including the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the Sustainable Development Goals; UN Paris Climate Agreement; the International Energy Agency Global Energy Review 2021; the Cotonou Agreement.
To ensure the sustainable development of Uganda’s oil and gas resources, in collaboration with the regulators and various partners, TotalEnergies EP Uganda one of the international oil companies massively investing in Uganda’s oil and gas sector has been undertaking various initiatives and actions around Environment and Biodiversity conservation, Social and Human Rights, including restoring and improving living standards of project affected people and the communities in the Tilenga project area an onshore project located in a sensitive context both environmentally and socially.
Like many African countries, Uganda is still a developing country, which is energy poor, and needs different natural resources to power the development needs and improve our people’s lives.
Therefore, the attacks on Uganda’s oil projects are attacks on Uganda’s development and uplift from poverty, energy insecurity, and human capital development.
Deo Otim is a Communications Officer at Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC)-State House