Disgruntled residents in Mubende district who have directly affected the construction of the 1443km stretcher Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) have through the Strategic Response on Environment Conservation (STREG) petitioned two major banks (Stanbic and Absa) asking them to desist from financing it.
The highly contested pipeline will pass through the ten districts of’; Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Rakai, and Kyotera.
Cirrus Kabaale, the ED of STREG said advised the banks to instead invest in projects that promote environmental conservation, climate justice, and human rights protection of the people as opposed to fossil fuels projects
He noted that the EACOP and other oil projects including the Tilenga, Kingfisher, and the oil refinery are located in the areas of social importance and critical biodiversity including land owned by most vulnerable people, national parks, game reserves, forests, water sources like lakes and rivers, sacred natural and historical sites, and many others.
“The impact of oil activities on these ecosystems is already huge the ongoing oil exploitation processes present huge social, environmental, economic, and political implications for our country and people,” he said
In this petition submitted to Ms. Anne Juuko, Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic Bank Uganda, and Mr. Mumba Kalifungwa, Chief Executive Officer, Absa Bank Uganda, EACOP affected communities called on the banks to distance them from financing the EACOP oil project.
“Through the compulsory land acquisition, the project will abuse the land rights of over 13,000 households’ in Uganda and Tanzania. Of these 13,000, roughly 200 households in Uganda and 331 households in Tanzania will have to be resettled, and approximately 3,200 to 3,500 households in Uganda and 9513 households in Tanzania will be economically displaced according to Oxfam, 2020,” he said.
“The EACOP affected communities continue to suffer from untold grievances such as low and unfair compensation for crops, stopping communities from using their land to grow perennial crops and set up new developments has worsened poverty, food insecurity and has increased school drop-out rates, especially among the girls,” he added.
He said that worst of all, the pipeline will run alongside the Lake Victoria Basin.
“Supporting projects of this nature is like committing suicide to over 40 million people who rely on for drinking water and food production. In case of any oil spill from the pipeline at any point, there is a great risk that the spill will poison the lake and local communities will be left with no other means of survival,”
“We are also concerned about the loss of habitats and disturbances in ecosystems due to oil activities in Uganda could result in the migration of animals to the DRC and other neighboring countries. This would result in human-wildlife conflicts, which could negatively affect environmental conservation efforts. This would be most unfortunate as our countries make money off tourism,”
On February 1, Joint Venture partners in Uganda’s oil sector; China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and Total E&P Uganda (TEPU) in partnership with the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) sealed the Final Investment Decision (FID), after close to 16 years of waiting.
In the upstream projects, Total is the majority shareholder with 56.67%, followed by CNOOC with 28.33% and UNOC with 15%, and the 1443 Uganda-Tanzania EACOP project is majority-owned by Total who has 62%, CNOOC 8%, UNOC 15% while Tanzania Petroleum Development Cooperation (TPDC) owns 15%.
The FID unlocked an investment of between $15Bn and $20Bn into the economy, over the next 3-5 years.
Of the $15Bn investment, Total president Patrick Pouyanne committed a $10Bn where; $4Bn will be invested in Tilenga, $3Bn in Kingfisher, and over $4Bn in EACOP.
Kabaale says that these projects will not only lead to the loss of habitats, but oil activities in Murchison Falls National Park operate around the clock, disrupting wildlife, water sources human health, recreation, and other aspects of the public lands that were set aside and held in trust for the Ugandan people.
“This is another source of worry, especially communities,” he said, “Supporting oil exploitation project of this scale could lock Uganda into fossil fuel dependency and undermine the country’s opportunity for a green transition, leaving Ugandans much poorer,”
“Further, the carbon footprint for the oil and gas development is too huge at a time when countries including Uganda and others are engaged in efforts to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It’s estimated that the EACOP project will contribute to over 34.3 million metric tonnes of carbon per year when oil and gas production starts,”
“Stop plans of financing oil and gas projects under the Tilenga, Kingfisher, and East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda, promote clean renewable energy projects through approving only green projects that promote sustainable development, engage Total and other oil project developers to immediately pay us fair and adequate compensation and invest in projects that promote environmental conservation, climate justice, and human rights protection of the people as opposed to fossil fuels projects,” he said