Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi has given the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development 21 days to make public the agreements that were signed on Sunday, between the government of Uganda and Tanzania.
Mabirizi threatens legal action if the Permanent Secretary does not comply with what he calls the constitutional obligation imposed on the ministry by the constitution.
On Sunday, the Presidents of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan and representatives of oil companies CNOOC AND Total are Host Government agreement and the Tariff and Transportation agreement.
The others are the Tariff and Transportation agreement as well as the shareholding agreement concerning the pipeline project.
Quoting Article 41 of the 1995 Constitution, Mabirizi said every Uganda is entitled to access information in the possession of the state or any other organ or agency of the government.
“Paragraphs XXVI and XXIX (a) and (f) of National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in our Constitution requires that all lawful measures shall be taken to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices,” says Mabirizi in a letter to the Permanent Secretary.
Mabirizi also alleges that there are already persons tainted with accusations of corruption, yet they are closely involved in these processes, which puts the safety of the resources at risk.
Whether Mabirizi’s petition will be of any consequence or not is another question, but his suit is a reminder of the many legal battles between the government of Uganda and the oil companies mainly of tax issues, which have partly led to the many delays.
Following the signing of the agreements on Sunday, the different parties were given a go-ahead to proceed with the implementation of projects like the commercial developments of the oil fields, as well as the pipeline project.
On completion, these projects are expected to lead to the production of the first oil for the country.
Total Uganda, which controls the majority stakes in the various projects confirmed in a statement Monday that oil production will commence in 2025. This is the latest and the 10th deadline to date since the resources were discovered in 2006.
President Yoweri Museveni says there is everything worth the wait because the reasons for the delays are the same reasons that the oil and gas in Uganda will benefit the citizens unlike what has happened in many developing countries that have discovered oil.
The main engineering, procurement and construction contracts will be awarded shortly, and construction will start, according to the Total, which adds that the first oil export is planned for early 2025.
“The Tilenga development and EACOP pipeline project are major projects for Total and are consistent with our strategy to focus on low breakeven oil projects while lowering the average carbon intensity of the Group’s upstream portfolio.
These projects will create significant in-country value for both Uganda and Tanzania” said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total.
The latest statement by total also re-commits to conserving the environment in the areas it is operating from.
“All the partners are committed to implementing these projects in an exemplary manner and taking into the highest consideration the biodiversity and environmental stakes as well as the local communities’ rights and within the stringent environmental and social performance standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC),” says the statement.
“Total is also taking into the highest consideration the sensitive environmental context and social stakes of these onshore projects. Our commitment is to implement these projects in an exemplary and fully transparent manner”.
On the sidelines and before these signatures, the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), China’s CNOOC and Total signed the “UNOC back-in documents” that fully admitted UNOC into the Tilenga and Kingfisher Development Area facilities.
The company is now a full member of the Joint Venture.
“The next steps are now going to be award of contracts to sub-contractors who will construct the Tilenga/KFDA facilities as well as construction and other works for the pipeline”, says Peter Mulisa, Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer at UNOC.
UNOC has 15% interest in the Tilenga and KFDA assets, and will also hold 15% in EACOP.