Ruth Nankabirwa, who is the Energy Minister, has started the process that will lead to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) getting a construction license.
At the beginning of July, East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Ltd asked the governments of Uganda and Tanzania for permission to start building.
Section 12 of the Petroleum (refining, conversion, transmission, and storage) Act requires the government to carry out public hearings on such projects before a decision is taken on whether to allow the construction. The notice for the application licence for East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Ltd. was published by Nankabirwa on Friday.
The notice, according to Nankabirwa, applies to about 296 kilometres of the pipeline on the Uganda side, starting from Kabale in Hoima up to Mutukula, the border with Tanzania.
Nankabirwa’s notice was also in compliance with the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline(EACOP) Special Provisions Act 2021. The underground heated pipeline EACOP will traverse the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Gomba, Mubende, Lwengo, Sembabule, Kyotera, and Rakai in Uganda. It is expected to cost about US$3.6 billion.
Nankabirwa says that people who will be directly affected by the pipeline and local authorities in the areas where the pipeline will be built have 30 days to object to the licence for building the pipeline, whether for personal, environmental, or other reasons.
The law gives the Ministry up to 180 days to take a decision to issue or reject the issuance of the construction license.
Honey Malinga, Director of the Directorate of Petroleum at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, says that they expect to come up with a decision before the end of the year.
According to Malinga, a number of public hearings will be held in the districts where the pipeline will traverse.
Asked whether there is a possibility of the Ministry of Energy rejecting the award of the construction license, Malinga said it will depend on the issues that come out of the public hearing.
Early in December 2020, the Environment and Social Impact Assessment report was approved by the National Environment Management Authority, and the EACOP project was given a certificate.
Similar approvals have been made by the authorities in Tanzania, which will host the largest part of the pipeline.
The Director General of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) of Tanzania, Modestus Martin Lumato, was recently in Uganda with his team and visited some of the places where the pipeline will be laid.
Eng. Gerald Maganga, who is the Director of Petroleum at EWURA, promised to speed up the process of getting the construction licence from the Tanzanian side.
Environmentalists are very upset about plans to build the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. They say that it will hurt the natural ecosystem and may upset the ecological balance of nature.
They have also alleged that it is likely to displace people from their ancestral land. But the government is going ahead as part of the infrastructure for monetization of the Albertine oil and gas finds. The value of oil and gas assets in Uganda is estimated at $116b.
The planned pipeline is similar to the one restricted by Carin-Energy in India. The heated, insulated pipeline that Cairn India built to move crude oil from the Thar deserts in Rajasthan to the coast of Gujarat is 684 kilometres long and goes through 270 villages and 34 major rivers.Edinburgh-based Cairn, which previously had to move oil to the refineries by truck, will now be able to sell through the pipeline.
The EACOP construction will be led by China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering and coordinated by Australia’s WorleyParsons Ltd. WorleyParsons Ltd was awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management tender.