EACOP is on course, to be ready by 2025, says UNOC

Peter Muliisa 

What you need to know:

  • Whereas government has said it is determined to bring all oil related projects to production, some projects, especially the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, have been victims of online attacks.
  • Monitor put a number of questions to Peter Muliisa, the Uganda National Oil Company chief legal and corporate affairs officer regarding the status of EACOP and more.

There has been reports of Britam pulling out from underwriting EACOP. How true is this?

Of course, you have not seen them (Britam) issue a statement. This is just people talking. It is a narrative being circulated by activists. 

You mean you have not received any communication in this regard? 

No, nothing at all. But let’s assume they have pulled out; how would it impact EACOP? There is an Association of Insurance Companies of Uganda that has a variety of firms. They have pooled resources to participate in our oil and gas sector. They are part of our local content insurance structure. 

We believe that the association will continue to participate, with the support of international entities that have shown willingness to participate. Britam is a small component in terms of the risk they can take. 

Therefore, it is not news. Whether Britam participates or not, Uganda shall continue to pursue its oil and gas projects to the end. 

Importantly, the key issue here is that all the news you hear about them pulling out is not coming from them. It is from the naysayers, which are mainly climate change activists.

Why is EACOP being targeted?  

EACOP is the project that will transport Uganda’s oil to the global market. Therefore, it provides the commercial aspect of oil production. We have three projects but EACOP is the one receiving the largest share of attacks and blackmail. Why? Because if we don’t have it, then we cannot reach the global market. 

I must say, it was very clever of the attackers to focus on EACOP yet we have other projects.

Have you found out why and who is behind the attacks both locally and internationally?    

We have a few scattered pockets of local resistance. Otherwise, nearly 100 percent of Ugandans have expressed buy-in and are vouching for the project.

Through our engagements with those opposing EACOP, we have found that they are driven by climate change activism. Recently, they added human rights concerns, without evidence.

However, we have taken them through the processes; how we shall manage the various projects without presenting threats of greenhouse emissions. But even with this, they continue to attack EACOP. 

We have shown them why we don’t believe we are going to significantly emit gases given that we have made the project environmentally responsive. 

We will be among the lowest emitting oil and gas project in the world, in addition to planting about 100 million trees to make the project carbon neutral.

However, the attackers have refused to listen. Their only demand is for us to abandon EACOP, which is our gateway to commercial oil. 

So, what will happen then?   

We shall continue with our projects. We advise those concerned with our projects to focus on projects where carbon neutrality has failed instead of EACOP. We think their arguments are stale, and they want us to remain poor. 

We don’t believe it is wise, desirable or necessary to conserve poverty. By resisting our projects without any alternative, they want us to remain tied down by poverty. We have listened to their arguments but they should try to listen to our position as well.

Issues in regard to compensation have been raised. Is there are problem here? 

Compensation of all project affected persons is on course and almost complete. So far, we have compensated about 64 percent of the affected persons and by end of December, we shall have completed this exercise. 

You should note that only 4 percent of project affected persons will be required to leave by January next year. All of these have already received money. While houses for those who requested to be built houses are almost complete. 

For those who have already relocated, we have put in place a livelihood restoration programme that will run for 12 months. Through the programme, we supply them with food and seeds to run them until when they are able to harvest their crops. 

How about those who are affected but won’t be required to leave? 

The pipeline will be buried under ground. Therefore, where the pipeline is buried, we have bought off all land that is within the 30-metre corridor. 

How is EACOP’s financing structured and how soon should we expect its completion? 

The project should be ready by 2025. At least 40 percent of project financing will be mobilised through equity while the final financing component, which is 60 percent of the capital expenditure, is being mobilised from different financiers. 

The shareholders, which include Total Energies, CNOOC, UNOC and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation, have put together the 40 percent, while we have got interest from different entities across the world to provide the 60 percent. 

We are finalising the finer details of the financing and hope to be ready by the end of December or early January. As of today, we are running on financing from equity and the project is moving on smoothly.