By Spy Uganda
The General Manager for a French oil company, TotalEnergies EP Uganda, Philippe Groueix has blasted European Union Parliament over misinformation and biasness towards Uganda’s oil project.
While speaking during the Uganda Oil and Gas Symposium organized by Makerere University Petroleum and Geology Society and TotalEnergies on Friday, Philippe noted that it is important to spread the correct information on such projects,
“When there is such a debate, it is important we provide information for everybody to make up their mind with relevant information. Does the world need this project? These people don’t say does Uganda need this project but rather does the world need this project. The stone age didn’t end due to a lack of stones. It will be the same for our petroleum industry. Not all oil and gas will be developed. A lot of it will stay underground because we have this thing of climate change and the need to decarbonize. Today the energy consumption is 80% and while we have the urgency of climate change, you can’t shift from 80% to zero in one day. There is a transition period,” he said.
Philippe’s comments follow alarming concerns raised by the European Union parliament over the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) saying there are several human rights violations, environmental issues and a lack of compensation to people affected by the pipeline works.
“When you say not all oil and gas will not be developed, how do you choose? (what to develop and what not to develop) Why are this project good and the other one not? Why should one(oil project) for Uganda not be developed and the other ones developed? Why shouldn’t Uganda be entitled to develop its oil while the US has increased their projection by nearly one million dollars in the last 18 months? Why is Qatar developing it’s oil and gas and Uganda shouldn’t? Globally we need to reduce carbon emissions and that is a fact. There is no debate about that but how we do it matters.”
“We will for the next 20 or 30 years need oil. There is a market and space for a Ugandan oil project in this world landscape. There is space for Uganda’s oil.”
Total Energies boss however noted that while there is a need to reduce carbon emissions, there is a lot of misinformation about Uganda’s oil project adding that they have put in place mitigation measures to safeguard the environment.
“Of course, oil and gas is a risk but if you look at how this project is managed and its ambition, it is compatible with tourism activities if we do it properly. There is a big potential for the development of tourism. This project is an opportunity to contribute to tourism.
He said that the oil companies are working with government entities including NEMA and the Uganda Wildlife Authority to ensure the protection of national parks and the environment.
The Total Energies boos further dismissed claims that there are a number of people whom the pipeline is going to pass were never compensated and are currently suffering after being evicted.
“We value the land together with the government and present an offer to the affected person. If you think the offer is not enough, we can also buy you exactly the same size of peace of land in the vicinity. The affected people by the project are able to get compensated in cash or in kind. However, more than 90% of the people choose money because always we pay more than the value of the land because we include a 30% disturbance allowance. The money is more than the value of the land.”
“We also continue to support them by asking what they want to do to improve their lives and how we can support them. We have individual programs for every single person to make sure their livelihoods are better than they were before. After compensation, it doesn’t end there; we follow up on them to know how best we can improve their lives through skills.”
Groueix however noted that just like any new project in any part of the world, there is always a disturbance.
“Of course there is disturbance because we bring a new industry but it happens everywhere. We make sure this disturbance is positive to majority of the people so they benefit through job opportunities, and better infrastructure like roads and schools for a brighter future. We believe the oil and gas sector will bring a lot of changes in Uganda such as improved industries, increased job opportunities among others.”
Speaking during the event, Rahma Nantongo the president of Makerere University Petroleum and Geology Society, said the symposium was organized to bring students and other members of the public to speed with what is happening in Uganda’s oil and gas sector.
“There is a lot of misinformation about Uganda’s oil and gas sector. We made an arrangement for students to convene and hear from experts and key players about the sector. We wanted to have all the misconceptions and propaganda about the sector cleared but also for students and members of the public to get information about the available opportunities in Uganda’s oil and gas sector,” Nantongo said.