Uganda: Pipeline politics pits jobs and profits against homes and land
The world’s most significant heated pipeline, stretching 1,443 kilometers from Uganda to Tanzania, will generate 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
NGOs and the European Union have questioned its climate and humanitarian consequences. Still, its main investor, the French oil corporation TotalEnergies, and local governments have defended its development and job prospects.
“Some of these individuals are insufferable, so shallow and narcissistic, yet they believe they know everything,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stated during the Uganda-International Oil and Gas Summit in Kampala on September 27.
Two weeks previously, the European Parliament approved a resolution criticizing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), headed by the French oil corporation Total Energies, which owns 62% of the project.
According to the European Commission, the world’s most significant heated oil pipeline endangers local populations’ rights and heralds a defeat in the battle against climate change. The resolution, however, was a personal assault on President Museveni’s long-awaited dream of becoming an oil exporter.
“I urge the oil corporations to proceed with the refinery and pipeline.” “I believe our partners will strongly support us,” he stated, attempting to silence the critics.
The project, abbreviated EACOP, would carry oil from Hoima District in Uganda to a storage facility in the Tanzanian coastal city of Tanga across a distance of 1,443 kilometers.
At full capacity, the pipeline would transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day and will be buried below and insulated to maintain the oil at 50oC or warmer to facilitate flow.
Some of these individuals are unbearable, so shallow, and narcissistic that they believe they know everything.
Aboveground, there will be two station pumps, a future Kabaale Industrial Park, and other structures like as new tarmac roads, electrical substations, and valves to decrease or halt the flow of oil.
In 2006, oil was found on the shores of Lake Albert in Uganda’s Albertine area. After over ten years of preparation and a failed original arrangement with Kenya, Uganda picked Tanzania as its export route with Total’s assistance.
Construction began in 2017 with an initial completion date of 2022; however, the Covid-19 lockout and challenges with securing funds have pushed the completion date to 2025.
As of now, not a single kilometer of the pipeline has been constructed, nor has a single barrel of oil been extracted, even though the first rigs are scheduled to arrive in October.
High human and environmental costs must be borne.
The pipeline will go 296 kilometers via Uganda and 1,147 kilometers through Tanzania. Human rights violations done in Uganda when gaining land have been among the key complaints.
Locals have lost land due to delayed compensation, community relocation, and a property price rise, impacting access to education and health services.
“The procedure began in 2012.” They banned us from planting crops that would take up to eight months to develop beyond the first inspections. “We couldn’t make a living from agriculture, so our children had to drop out of school,” said one of Kabaale’s inhabitants and members of the Oil Refinery Residents Association.
However, critics have also raised concerns about the project’s environmental effect. The total carbon dioxide emissions from the oil project will be 34 million metric tonnes (MT), double the total for Tanzania and Uganda combined.
Total Energies’ Tilenga oil field will drill 32 oil pads inside the Murchison Conservation Area, which encompasses one of Uganda’s largest parks and ecological hotspots.
We couldn’t make a living from agriculture, so our children had to quit out.”
According to organizations such as the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment and Inclusive Development International, the pipeline and roads will harm 2.000 square kilometers of protected wildlife habitats, including endangered species such as chimps in Bugoma Forest and African elephants in Murchison Falls National Park.
An opportunity to shine
Despite the environmental effect, local governments consider the project essential to their nations’ prosperity.
The Ugandan National Oil Company and the Tanzania Petroleum National Corporation own 15% of the company. According to government estimates, the project will attract $4 billion in international investment.
The pipeline generates 2,400 direct employment and roughly 1,000 indirect jobs in Uganda alone. Rahma Nantongo chairs the Makerere University Petroleum and Geology Society.
The 23-year-old student views EACOP as a career opportunity: “I envision myself making greater choices for the oil business in the future, but to do so, I need to be engaged now.”
Nonetheless, solid hopes for job chances must be constantly monitored. Almost 90% of persons in EACOP-affected villages in Uganda are farmers, herders, or fishermen.
With poor educational levels and insufficient experience in the oil industry, their prospects of finding jobs are dwindling. “The initiative is delivering employment to young people who are not educated,” said an Oil Refinery Association resident.