Government of Uganda is determined to have the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project delivered as planned, the Minister of State for Minerals, Hon. Peter Lokeris, has said.
“I know many of you had started thinking that the project has stalled but this Public Hearing should now take away all doubt since it is one of the pre-requisites to having the EACOP project delivered,” he said.
Hon. Lokeris made the remarks during the first session of the EACOP Public Hearing for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report, which took place at Kisiita Primary School, Kakumiro District. About 1500 stakeholders participated in the public hearing.
The delayed oil pipeline has since unsettled investors and Tanzania.The project was planned to be complete by 2020.
However, a year to the initially planned deadline, the Ugandan government is yet to seal a deal with oil companies to make the Final Investment Decision.
Uganda has since 2016 been lagging behind on the US$3.5billion project, owing to a number of disagreements with oil companies.
The project suffered a terminal set back after Total SA terminated activities related on the pipeline following the collapse of a deal to buy a stake in Tullow Oil Plc’s interests in the Lake Albert Development Project.
Speaking at the recent Uganda-Tanzania Business Forum in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzanian leader John Pombe Magufuli blamed the lack of progress on the pipeline project on bureaucrats on the Ugandan side, calling on his counterpart Yoweri Museveni to take action.
Magufuli also said Uganda should have foregone the tax on the Tullow deal to let the more important oil pipeline project to proceed.
Lokeris Speaks out
However, speaking to hundreds of people in Kakumiro on Monday, said Uganda was making progress on the pipeline project.
He urged the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) to re-invest the money they will receive as compensation.
“The EACOP project is linear in nature only occupying 30m wide strip of land. If you get your compensation, re-invest it to improve your livelihoods,” he added.
The Minister also urged the PAPs along the EACOP to only push for fair compensation of their land.
“The land acquisition process for the EACOP project is ongoing. But it becomes difficult when people inflate the value of their land and demand for unfair compensation,” he said.
Mr. Dozith Abeinomugisha, who represented the Executive Director of the PAU, welcomed the stakeholders to the public hearing, and urged them to participate freely and openly to enrich the ESIA report.
“This is the fifth public hearing being held for different oil and gas projects, that has been organised by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda. The first four were of the Kingfisher and Tilenga projects (Upstream), while this week’s hearings are for the EACOP Project (Midstream),” said Mr Abeinomugisha said.
Mr Maxim Marchenko, the Director of the EACOP project, presented the project specifications during the public hearing and noted that the fourteen (14) land valuation reports required for the project were before the Chief Government Valuer.
“We are optimistic that the land valuation reports will be approved so that the compensation of PAPs can proceed,” he said.
The EACOP Project is expected to create employment for the locals in terms of supply of labour, engineering and construction materials. The Oil and Gas Sector is anticipated to create about 160,000 jobs both directly, indirectly induced.
The public hearing was organized by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) in accordance with Section 22 of the National Environment (Environment Impact Assessment) Regulations.
Officials said the main objective of the ESIA is to offer affected and interested parties the opportunity to express their opinions on any issues considered outstanding in the report.
The EACOP project is one of the major midstream commercialization projects for Uganda’s oil and gas industry. When constructed, the EACOP will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world, at 1,443km, running from Kabaale in Hoima District, to Tanga port in Tanzania.
Early project works on the EACOP included the signing of the Inter-Government Agreement between Uganda and Tanzania in May 2017 and conclusion of the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) in 2018. Ongoing works include resettlement action planning, which started in 2018, and negotiations for the project framework agreements.
The Presiding Officer at the public hearing was Prof. Vincent Bagiire from Makerere University, Kampala. He invited stakeholders to participate and give their views on the project. The most frequently raised issues by the PAPs revolved around land valuation and timing for compensation.
The area Member of Parliament Bugangaizi East, Hon. Onesmus Twinamatsiko said government should expedite the process for compensation since the cut off date had already been announced.
“My people have only one request, they want to know when government will pay them. Land grabbers are taking advantage of the project to cheat the locals”, said Twinamatsiko.
The second session of the EACOP public hearing will take place on October, 23 2019, at Kasana Church of Uganda grounds, Mubende District. The third and final session will be hosted at Lwanda Public Grounds, Rakai District, on October 25, 2019.