What you need to know:
- It is now clear that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will not kill lions and hippos or pass through 230 imaginary rivers. It is also clear that EACOP does not pass through Lake Albert or Lake Victoria or threaten most of the world’s chimpanzees.
Proponents of stopping Uganda’s oil project have been working overtime on manufacturing facts on an industrial scale. From imaginary rivers to imaginary emissions, a number of their claims have been roundly debunked. It is now clear that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will not kill lions and hippos or pass through 230 imaginary rivers. It is also clear that EACOP does not pass through Lake Albert or Lake Victoria or threaten most of the world’s chimpanzees.
It is agreed that the pipeline will not leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless or deprive 40 million people of drinking water. One stubborn outlandish claim has been made repeatedly by many activists and recently found its way into a misguided EU Parliamentary debate.
It has been made persistently by international NGOs and was even part of the official EU Parliamentary resolution; that EACOP will emit 34 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year for 20 years. On account of these supposed emissions, Uganda’s oil project has been described as a “climate bomb”.
This false claim, repeated so frequently by activist groups, has received universal acceptance. Western media houses reporting on EACOP have reproduced this claim uncritically and yet, by comparison, Uganda will produce approximately 200,000 barrels of oil per day while Norway produces two million barrels of oil per day.
This is almost 10 times what Uganda is going to produce. Norway, however, emits 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. To arrive at 34 million metric tonnes of carbon from Uganda’s oil project, we would have to emit more carbon than Norway while producing 10 times less oil than Norway. Obviously, this is impossible.
The 34 million metric tonnes claim is made all the more outlandish by the fact that the pipeline will be buried six feet underground. How can a pipeline, buried six feet underground, emit 34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? It takes miraculous steel to pull off such a feat.
The activists, when challenged, contend that it is after the oil is transported and “burned” abroad that it will emit 34 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These back of the envelope calculations are based on the argument that Uganda should be responsible for emissions by motorists and industrialists who buy EACOP oil. They call these “end user emissions.”
This is not a standard they have for Norway or indeed for any other country. It is a measure of understanding carbon emissions tailored to Uganda. For Ugandan oil to produce that many tonnes of carbon it must be turned into petrol, diesel or aviation fuel and burned in cars or planes. So who should be responsible for those emissions? The country that produces oil or the country that makes cars and planes which burn oil? Or the end user who actually emits?
In any event, Ugandan oil is waxy. About 40 percent of its crude is best used for asphalt or bitumen. It is possible to refine all the crude into motor oils or to use it or some of it for other purposes like polyester, fertiliser, plastics or tar for roads.
To assume it will all go into cars for the next 25 years is speculative. It means the activists have pre-determined who will buy the crude in 2025, what it will be used for and how much it will emit. This is an imagination on an industrial scale.
The truth is the entire oil project will, at most, emit 1.68m metric tonnes of carbon per year if we produce 30kg of carbon per barrel which is the global average. TotalEnergies has, however, stated that it will produce 10.6kg per barrel, well below the global average.
Our refinery may emit more. It will produce petrol, diesel, jet fuel, LPG and heavy fuel oils for domestic consumption. Does that mean it will substantially increase Uganda’s carbon emissions? The answer is no.
As we all know, Uganda already consumes petroleum products. When we produce and refine Ugandan oil, we will stop shipping these on the sea in huge ships from the gulf bringing oil to Uganda. We will also stop the long distance trucking of fuel from Kenya to Uganda.
Uganda’s oil project is altogether a low carbon high value project. It is no wonder some attribute this Anti-EACOP campaign of disinformation to prejudice. It is time to lay facts on the table and curb the 34 million carbon lies.
The writer is an advocate and partner at Kampala Associated Advocates