Oil pipeline coating plant flagged off

Officials from EACOP and Tanzania Energy Ministry during the commissioning of the coating plant yesterday. Photo / Courtesy  

What you need to know:

  • The plant is one of the early works on the $4b (Shs15trillion) duct that will transport Uganda’s waxy crude oil 

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) company yesterday commissioned the thermal insulation or coating plant for line pipes to be laid along the 1,443k stretch from Hoima in mid-western Uganda to Tanga port at the Indian Ocean in Tanzania.

The plant, one of the early works on $4b (Shs15trillion) duct that will transport Uganda’s waxy crude oil is situated at the project’s midpoint in Nzega district in the Tabora region in Tanzania.

It is here that the estimated 86,000-line pipe joints, hauled in from China and Greece, will be among others coated in the fashion of a thermos flask - to keep the warmth of the crude oil flowing while at the same time keep the external environment cool.

Uganda’s crude oil has low sulphur content - making it heavy, waxy and solidifies at room temperature, so, the pipeline will be heated for the liquid content to flow smoothly from the pumping terminal in Hoima to the marine terminal at Tanga port.

The bulk of line pipes are made by Panyu Chu Kong (PCK) Steel Pipe  in China, complimented by Greece’s Corinth. The Chinese company snapped the tender last year after Russia’s Chelpipe was incapacitated by EU/US sanctions in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

EACOP managing director Martin Tiffen, yesterday said the commissioning “the plant embodies our commitment to safety, operational excellence and sustainability, combining talents from Tanzania and internationally, and creating employment and up-skilling opportunities both nationally and for communities in the vicinity.” 

The plant, which was tendered  to Italy’s ISOF Construzioni SRL, will coat about 110-117km of line pipe per month to allow China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering, which is in charge of the pipeline construction and expected to commence intensive works in June finish work by late 2025 when Uganda wants to start oil production.

Yesterday’s commissioning also coincided with the official signing of land lease agreements between the EACOP company and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), following completion of the project right of way in Tanzania.

TPDC is one of the shareholders in the EACOP company with 15 percent, alongside Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) with 15 percent, French TotalEnergies with 62 percent, and China’s CNOOC with eight percent.

Eighty percent or 1,147km of the project is in Tanzania snaking through 25 districts.  

The Ugandan section of the pipeline is about 296km through 10 districts and 25 sub-counties, and 172 villages.

Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, said the development yesterday “signifies a significant milestone in our collective efforts to strengthen energy infrastructure”

“This initiative underscores our commitment to enhance energy security and promote regional cooperation," she added.

Tanzania’s Energy Minister Doto Mashaka Biteko, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy described flagging off of the plant as a “testament to our dedication to advancing infrastructure capabilities. This workshop will not only facilitate efficient crude oil transportation but also foster economic growth and development within the region."

The plant will in the coming months employ some 270 workers to be involved in front-line site activities, including running the thermal insulation production lines, pipe handling, logistics, maintenance, and inspection.