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Oil: European parliament resolution divides Ugandans

The debate on Uganda's oil industry by the European Union (EU) parliament and the subsequent resolution condemning the crude oil pipeline project continues to draw mixed reactions amongst the citizenry.

An online petition to counter the EU legislator's resolution garnered the intended 7,000 signatures in three days by Monday. The petition campaign called by a development charity, the Western Youth Forum, has attracted the signatures of various levels of Ugandans including Ruth Nankabirwa, the minister for Energy and Mineral Development, and Elly Karuhanga of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum among others. Others are top officials at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), MPs, among others. 

The European parliament's main resolution was to compel the governments of Uganda and Tanzania, and the oil companies led by TotalEnergies of France, to halt the implementation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project for at least one year so to find an alternative route that would not affect as many people and the ecosystem as well as a review of alleged human rights abuses, especially in Uganda. TotalEnergies rejected any kind of blame for what Uganda or Tanzania are doing, saying that they are sovereign countries.

"Uganda and Tanzania are sovereign states that have made the strategic choice to exploit their natural resources to contribute to the development of their countries," says the company in a statement. 

"They chose TotalEnergies, guaranteeing the implementation of the best social and environmental standards with a project that will emit significantly less carbon than the current average."

The design of the period by the Western Youth Forum is in line with this. 

"European Union must stop frustrating the EACOP and let the independent countries of Uganda and Tanzania address the internal processes. African countries must be allowed to exploit their natural resources for socio-economic transformation and economic independence," says the call. 

In his response to the EU resolution which was debated and condemned, President Yoweri Museveni said he draws his confidence in the safety of the ecosystem and the population from the expert advice by TotalEnergies.

"We should remember that TotalEnergies convinced me about the pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU parliament, we shall find someone else to work with," he said, assuring all that whatever happens, Uganda will have her oil flowing by 2025.

In his interview with BBC Focus on Africa, Peter Muliisa, the head of legal and corporate affairs in UNOC said they intend to invite EU legislators on a sensitization tour of the oil projects so that they get informed after a formal communication is sent to Uganda. 

Muliisa said for example, that the MPs said the pipeline will cross 230 rivers, and yet the total number of rivers in the two countries combined cannot add to 230.

"Environmental impact assessments were done, reevaluated, and re-audited before the projects commenced," he said. This was re-echoed by Dr Barirega Akankwasah, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) executive director. 

"I wish to assure Ugandans that environmental and social impacts of Tilenga, Kingfisher, and EastAfrican Crude Oil Pipeline projects were assessed by NEMA using the globally accepted standard approach of avoidance, minimization, restoration and offset mechanism," he said. 

He said that claims that the process didn’t meet international standards are misguided and not based on any scientific or factual basis. 

"The process followed international best practices and global standards with technical backstopping of the time-tested Norwegian Environment Agency". He argued that the debate should not mix politics with matters of environmental management which are purely based on science.

PAU also allayed fears of massive gas emissions in the process of running the pipeline.

"To minimize greenhouse gas emissions, EACOP will be powered by hydroelectricity from the national grid in Uganda and a solarization project has been inbuilt into the project in Tanzania," says PAU in a statement.

On possible damage to the pipeline and hence oil leaks, PAU explained that a damage detection and prevention mechanism is being designed as part of the project.

"To protect the pipeline from external damage, a fiber optic cable with intrusion detection capabilities will be installed along the pipeline to provide a warning to the operators and government in case there is any excavation attempt within the right of way," the statement says. 

Deputy lord mayor Doreen Nyanjura criticized the petition and its designers, accusing them of rallying the same Ugandans whose human rights they allegedly violate regularly.

"Why should you sign when the oil is not yours?" she added.

Comments

+2 #1 kabayekka 2022-09-19 16:31
It seems this European resolution is about to save the poor country of Uganda from paying lots of money to Tanzania in rent for this expensive pipeline.

Uganda is already paying lots of money for its former troops getting involved in Rwanda and the Congo. The debts Uganda is faced with are astronomical.

TotalEnergies as a very rich international company and environmentally friendly that should be able to understand these economic problems and accept a stop over for sometime until such economic problems are solved amicably and not by civil wars.

TotalEnergies is likely to loose lots of money if it continues to force its efforts on building this project and afterwards force the people of this country to pay back.
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0 #2 Ensi eno!! 2022-09-19 20:33
EU Parliament just wants to conserve poverty in Uganda and Tanzania, they should let us be for once!

TotalEnergies took FID which is irreversible and pulling out will be very detrimental for them.
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+3 #3 Apollo 2022-09-19 21:49
I have stated it here for the last 10 or so years and will state it here again: Uganda will never be permitted to extract the oil as long as Gen. Museveni is hell bent on turning Uganda into another North Korea.

There is no problem with all the wonderful efforts done by UNOC and technical work undertaken. These strategic, legal, structural and managerial undertakings are great and will finally deliver the oil for the benefit of this Country.

What will not happen will be Gen. Museveni to superintend over the oil extraction unless he drops his political designs intended to turn Uganda into dynastic rule by a repressive one party-state that has no regard for human rights.
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+1 #4 Ebmok 2022-09-19 23:40
First it was USA slapping sanctions on Uganda's gold. Now, EU, the apparent development partner, is slapping brakes on Uganda's oil!

Who told these thugs that they understand best for everyone? How come EU hasn't sanctioned Spain for the killings of African immigrants on makeshift boats just a few weeks ago?

Moreover, it's EU nations that have done the exploration, the geological surveys, and now the management of Uganda's oil with billions of dollars part of which came from EU.

May be they're pointing an indirect finger because Uganda refused to recognize their perceived enemy aa her enemy too.

So now it's like pay-to-play; it's bullying and then the locals suffer and again EU wakes up with another package i.e. more debt. There's definitely something else these arrogant bullies are up to.
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0 #5 Akot 2022-09-20 17:50
kabayekka,

Ensi eno, thanks

TotalEnergies made huge profits from oil it exploites in shitholes & will be taxed by France to finance already good French public/social servises!

Not to forget Oil isn't the future for Uganda, as it isn't for Europe already spending so much to enlarge use of clean energy!

But of course, ending Museveni's rule in UNITY comes FIRST, if Ugandans want to have a say on their land riches & who control them!
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0 #6 Akot 2022-09-20 18:01
Quoting Apollo:


Uganda will never be permitted to extract the oil as long as Gen. Museveni is hell bent on turning Uganda into another North Korea.

What will not happen will be Gen. Museveni to superintend over the oil extraction unless he drops his political designs intended to turn Uganda into dynastic rule by a repressive one party-state that has no regard for human rights.


Understood, but,

Don't forget that as long as Ugandans keep demon Museveni in power, EU...will ignore Ugandans miseries & just extract natural resources!

Ugandans MUST say NO to the tribalistic system & UNITE to say NO to Museveni, NO to EU's thirst for Oil, while ignoring Ugandans miseries under the most inhuman rule!

EU is becoming as useless as UN now; only helping ensure dictatorship, bad rule in Africa, while controlling natural resources through their companies!
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0 #7 Noel Ntambi 2022-09-28 11:33
The same colonial abusers and robbers of African life and wealth caring for our environment and rights require some apology and reparations first.

Otherwise, the EU voice should be ignored permanently by Africa.
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0 #8 Lakwena 2022-09-29 10:05
Quoting Noel Ntambi:
The same colonial abusers and robbers of African life and wealth caring for our environment and rights require some apology and reparations first.

Otherwise, the EU voice should be ignored permanently by Africa.


Wrong Noel Ntambi, for 36 years and counting, we already have the knees and boots of a native colonial imperialist abusers and robbers on our necks.

Ntambi, although we pick and pay all his Bills; where were you on 26th Jan 2017, when that brutal native colonial, imperial abuser and robber, non other than Gen Tibuhaburwa without blinking told us off that he is neither our servant nor employee?

In other words Ntambi, which is more humiliating and dehumanizing (Greater Evil): to be colonized, imperialized and robbed by fellow countrymen/women or done by total strangers/Bazungu, who fund more than 50% of our Essential Medical and Educations bills/Budget?
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