Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project comes to fruition despite recent challenges.
The assurance was given by Minerals State Minister, Peter Lokeris in Kakumiro district at the opening of a public hearing into the Environment Social Impact Assessment for the longest heated crude oil pipeline running from Uganda to Tanzania’s port of Tanga.
The Minister dispelled fears from sections of the public and players in the oil and gas industry that the pipeline project had stalled following the collapse of the Tullow-Total farm down deal.
“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.
He was addressing a gathering the first day at Kisiita Primary School, Kakumiro district. It attracted 1500 people comprised of person’s likely to be affected by the pipeline, environmentalists and the oil and gas industry players.
The Minister hinted on the possibility of money trickling down to the district in the project area in the form of compensation for land and other infrastructure. 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 said.
The Minister said the project affected persons should also assert for fair compensation but as well ensure that the project goes on as planned. “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.
The Director of the EACOP project, Maxim Marchenko said fourteen (14) land valuation reports required for the project were before the Chief Government Valuer to determine compensation rates for compensation to commence.
The 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.
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 hearing was presided over by Prof. Vincent Bagiire as required by the National Environment Management Act. While the ESIA report details a range of likely social and environmental impacts of the project, most of the contributions by persons to be affected revolved around compensation.
Bugangaizi East MP, Onesmus Twinamatsiko urged the government to expedite the compensation process saying the cut off date for the affected person to vacate the land had already been announced. “My people have only one request; they want to know when the 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 23rd October 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.
The ESIA public hearings come at the time when some players are calling on the government to end the current deadlock on commercailisation of Uganda’s oil and gas. Players like suppliers to the industry have in the past complained that the deadlock has had what they called disruptive economics on their businesses.
One of the issues of concerns is that the Joint venture partners Total, CNOOC and Tullow have not taken a Final Investment Decision FID as planned. Without FID, the commencement of filed development for commercialization of the sector may take longer than expected.
Total E&P suspended all activities on the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline on September 5. The decision followed an August 29 termination by Tullow of its farm-down deal to Total E&P and CNOOC over capital gains tax dispute with the government.