By Spy Uganda
Kampala: President Museveni has assured Ugandans that no one will stop the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project that is yet to kick off.
Museveni’s assurance follows the decision by European Union (EU) Parliament in Brussels, Belgium to pass a resolution that seeks to compel Uganda, Tanzania and French company Total Energies to delay the development of the crude oil pipeline for at least a year over claims of human rights violations in the areas it passes.
Museveni has however insisted no one can change what has already been agreed upon for the construction of the pipeline.
“I want to assure you that the project shall proceed as stipulated in the contract we have with Total Energies. We should remember that Total Energies convinced me about the idea of the pipeline and if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, they will compensate us and we shall find someone else to work with,” Museveni said in a statement on Friday.
“Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, people should not worry,” he added.
On Thursday, the EU legislators argued that there is a need for Uganda and Tanzania to adopt international best practices during the project development and to this, they recommended that the project needs to be halted for a year.
The EU Parliament further noted that oil-related activities in the Murchison Falls National Park should be halted until they conform to standards.
To this, they asked the French President, Emmanuel Macron to exert pressure on Total Energies to halt the project.
Since its inception, EACOP has faced resistance from several African and international environmental and human rights organizations which started a campaign to stop the construction of the 1,445-kilometer-long pipeline that draws crude oil from wells in western Uganda in Hoima district to Tanzania’s seaport of Tanga.
These had sought to frustrate the $10-billion deal signed by Chinese and French oil giants CNOOC and Total Energies committing to construct the pipeline arguing that it risks damaging one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
Under their “Stop EACOP” campaign, the activists have carried out a number of activities to frustrate the pipeline including writing to several would-be financers of the project not to fund it.
It was also reported that several international insurers had distanced themselves from insuring the 1445-kilometre-long pipeline.
However, last month, Uganda’s Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) RA Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Kaddunabbi Lubega said the process of ensuring the pipeline is now done.
“We approved the oil and gas consortium after various players licenced dedicated resources to the creation of the insurance consortium that created the capacity of the consortium. When the time came to underwrite the pipeline, it is the consortium we call ICOGU that underwrote and submitted to us to approve whether they have the capacity or whether what they are doing is the correct thing. I can confirm that EACOP is fully insured to the extent of the information they submitted,” Kaddunabbi told journalists.
Total Energies’ General Manager, Phillipe Groeuix recently said whereas there are many detractors to Uganda’s oil project in form of environmentalists both locally and from the international community, they are committed to ensuring the project is a success.
“Detractors(of this project) in Uganda are many. There are many more outside Uganda but we want to prove them wrong in the sense that this development is good for the environment, the communities and the most vulnerable people and the country. We will prove them wrong that instead of being bad, this project is a big opportunity,” Phillipe Groeuix, Total Energies’ General Manager said.
“We want to prove to them that this project is an opportunity for biodiversity, the communities, local culture and local development and it is something that will drive economic development and cultural and heritage development among others.”
The Total Energies General Manager said the French giants having launched the Tilenga Biodiversity Programme to compensate for any likely impact from oil and gas activities in the Albertine Graben Area have embarked on several other activities all aimed at ensuring the project benefits everyone.
He however insisted that the French company is committed to ensuring that its activities are conducted in line with best environmental and social practices.
“We are committed to working with partners who are experts in implementing sustainable projects aimed at achieving positive outcomes for conservation, culture and communities. These agreements are just the beginning of a much bigger programme of partnerships for the implementation of our actions for sustainability.”