Tanzania agreed on Tuesday, February 21, to the construction of a 3.5 billion dollar (about 3.3 billion euros) oil pipeline as part of a controversial megaproject intended to transport hydrocarbons from East Africa to international markets, despite recurrent criticism from environmental advocates. This pipeline, approximately 1,500 km long, is to link the deposits of Lake Albert, in western Uganda, to the Tanzanian coast on the Indian Ocean.
This project requires the approval of both countries. In January, Uganda issued a license to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company (Eacop) consortium, 62% owned by the French giant TotalEnergies. Approval by the Tanzanian government “marks another step forward for Eacop, as it allows the start of the main construction activities in Tanzania at the end of the ongoing land access process”said Eacop director general in Tanzania, Wendy Brown.
The project “will comply not only with the laws of Tanzania and Uganda, but also with the highest international standards”particularly in terms of ” human rights “assured M.me Brown. According to her, some 13,000 households are affected by the pipeline route. The $10 billion project between Tanzania and Uganda is facing opposition from environmental activists and groups, who say it threatens the region’s fragile ecosystem and populations living there.
“Duty of care”
“We are proud of this pipeline as it will increase Tanzania’s influence in the world”boasted January Makamba, the Tanzanian Minister of Energy. “There is a lot of noise against this project, but we are redoubling our efforts to preserve the environment”he continued, referring to the vegetation planting programs on the route of the pipeline. “We have complied with all environmental, safety and human rights standards”also assured the minister.
Six NGOs sued TotalEnergies before the Paris court at the end of 2022, summoning the group to respect a law, passed in 2017, which imposes on multinationals a “duty of care” about their activities around the world. The deliberation is expected on February 28.
Lake Albert, the natural border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), holds an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil, of which around 1.4 billion are currently considered recoverable.