EAC must join hands to foster sustainable oil production 

Jane Nambakire Mulemwa 

What you need to know:

  • According to the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa, the case for regional and international cooperation in the sustainable exploitation of natural resources has never been stronger. 

Following the announcement of the Final Investment Decision in February, and the recent accession of DR Congo into the East African Community (EAC), the case for regional and international cooperation in the sustainable exploitation of natural resources has never been stronger. 

This is primarily because the East African Crude Oil pipeline (EACOP) project not only traverses Uganda and Tanzania but is designed to be a regional pipeline with potential linkages to DR Congo and South Sudan.

 In July 2019, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) joined the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA), which brings together energy regulators in the East Africa. 

In December 2019, the EREA formed a Petroleum Portfolio committee to focus on upstream, midstream, and downstream technical issues. 

This was against the backdrop of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019 with the Energy and Water Regulatory authority of Tanzania for the joint coordination of pipeline regulation. 

The recent accession by the DR Congo to the EAC provides a new impetus to increase and broaden this partnership geared towards strengthening regional cooperation.  This is an exciting period for the EAC considering that Uganda is transitioning from exploration to development and production of its petroleum resources with a project investment estimated at between $15b and $20b. 

The Tanzania Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project is estimated at $30b, while Kenya and the DR Congo are also undertaking exploration activities in their respective provinces. 

South Sudan (which is currently an observer at the EAC) is already producing and exporting crude oil via pipeline from Hegleig and Paloch to Khartoum and then to Port Sudan. 

Mozambique, which falls within the Western Rift Valley, is already developing its Liquified Natural Gas project after a Final Investment Decision (FID) for a $20b project. 

The East African potential cooperation is a great opportunity to lift the EAC people from poverty. 

This, however, will require synergies from government entities, including the regulators, in order to lay strategies and develop policies that maximise value retention in the region through National Content.

PAU continues to benchmark from other regulators worldwide in order to adopt international regulatory best practice. 

These collaborations will lead to enhanced research, harmonisation of frameworks, tariffs structures, capacity building, and technical assistance in many areas.

Benefits of EREA cooperation       

The partnership has enabled the accretion of benefits that arise from regional services in the planning and development of an integrated market for petroleum products. 

This gives the regulators a unified voice and common approach on energy regulatory matters, regionally and internationally. 

In October 2021, under my stewardship as chairperson of the EREA General Assembly, a memorandum of understanding was presented to Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, with the goal of enabling the establishment of the Energy Regulation Centre of Excellence in Arusha, Tanzania. 

Nankabirwa pledged to support EREA’s strategic initiatives geared towards promoting a robust Energy Union in the East African Community. 

EREA continues to gain recognition through its participation in the activities of other organizations, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africaunder the Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market project, the African Union, the World Bank, and the East African Centre of Excellence for Renewable Energy and Efficiency. 

Therefore, with the recent acceleration of the developments in the EAC, it is the mandate of each and every citizen to ensure sustainable development of the resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.

PAU looks forward to increased visibility, collaborative relationships, and the sharing of information as a clear pathway to the success that the country is already experiencing from its association with similar energy regulators in the region. 

Jane Nambakire Mulemwa is the chairperson of the General Assembly of EREA and Petroleum Authority of Uganda