What you need to know:
- Data should be disclosed at source through government and corporate databases, online registries, websites, and portals.
The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will have huge consequences for Uganda, as well as the planet. Disclosing the contracts behind it will help us properly scrutinise it.
Its supporters claim that the EACOP will bring Uganda huge benefits.
The champions of the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline, which will run for 1,443 kilometres from oil fields near Lake Albert in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania and is expected to be completed in 2025, say it will transform East Africa’s energy landscape.
They add that it will propel Uganda into middle-income status, turning the country into an energy producer for the first time, boosting government revenues, and providing jobs to an economy still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. But to its critics, EACOP is a colossal error.
In a world where the impacts of the climate crisis are being increasingly felt, stopping EACOP has become a rallying cause for campaigners around the world.
More than one million people signed a petition for the project to be axed. They say that such a large-scale oil development between French oil company TotalEnergies, the Chinese state oil developer CNOOC, the Uganda National Oil Company, and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation – is incompatible with a world striving towards net zero emissions, pointing out that it will pump an estimated 34 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
Consequently, a growing number of major banks and insurers have ruled out financing the project, citing the pipeline’s environmental threats. Others have documented its risks to human rights, and communities it will displace, land and livelihoods, as well as biodiversity. This month, conflicting views over the pipeline came to the fore.
On September 14, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the project. This was swiftly criticised by Ugandan lawmakers.
Given these controversies, and EACOP’s profound economic, social and environmental repercussions, the public should be able to scrutinise the details of an oil deal that will shape their futures, and those of future generations.
Yet the key documents that would reveal answers to critical questions about EACOP remain hidden from the Ugandan public.
Fundamental unknowns about the deal include the agreement signed between Uganda and Tanzania, and the one signed between Uganda and the EACOP Company Ltd.
Oil deals rarely benefit the local people who live in areas surrounding the projects. Will this one be any different? Does the deal contain specific anti-corruption measures? What are the findings of the project’s environmental and social impact assessments? What measures are in place to counter any negative economic, social, and environmental effects?
There are also questions about the wisdom of building a major new oil pipeline, just as the world moves away from fossil fuels.
The public needs answers to these and other critical questions about EACOP.
This is why PWYP Uganda - a coalition of more than 45 civil society organisations, and part of the global movement for transparency in oil, gas, and mining – are campaigning for the deal’s contracts and agreements to be disclosed.
Information is power, and access to it is a fundamental human right.
Keeping the details of EACOP’s agreements and contracts concealed means stripping the agency from those affected by it, and denying the public the chance to fully understand the risks and rewards of a deal with vast ramifications for Uganda, the rest of Africa, and the world.
Data should be disclosed at source through government and corporate databases, online registries, websites, and portals to provide citizens and stakeholders with accessible and up-to-date information on the sector.
Everyone has the right to participate in decisions that affect them.
Robert Tumwesigye Baganda, Coordinator of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Uganda