President Museveni yesterday slammed the European Union (EU) MPs opposed to the Uganda oil project as “shallow” and reiterated that everything will go on as planned for commercial oil production to start in 2025.
The President, while officiating at the two-day Uganda-International Oil and Gas Summit in Kampala, also beseeched the EU parliament to “calm down because this is a wrong battleground for them.”
“I encourage the oil companies to continue the refinery and oil pipeline. I hope our partners will join us firmly and advise accordingly,” he said.
The President was commenting for the second time on the resolution passed by majority EU legislators on September 16, seeking to compel Uganda, Tanzania and French oil giant TotalEnergies SE to defer construction of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) for one year to study an alternative route with least environment footprint.
But Mr Museveni slammed the EU legislators as “egocentric” people “who think they know everything.”
While the EU parliament’s resolutions are merely advisory to the EU Commission, the executive branch of the 27-member trading bloc, which is responsible for implementing decisions and managing the day-to-day business of the EU; the anti-EACOP resolution, has in the last days elicited a chorus of negative voices by environmentalists, and attracted undue attention for government.
The EU legislators alleged, among others, human rights abuses including wrongful imprisonment of human rights defenders and the arbitrary suspension of NGOs opposed to the EACOP.
The EACOP will transport Uganda’s waxy crude oil from the oil fields in mid-western Uganda to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean Tanga port en route to the international market. The capex for the project is around $3.8b (Shs14 trillion).
Yesterday, President Museveni said: “I didn’t support the idea of a pipeline because I asked my friends from Total; where are you taking our petrol?” adding that: “I developed interest in the pipeline later on for two reasons. Our Tanzanian brothers and sisters will also benefit from the project because they supported the liberation struggles.”
The second reason for the pipeline, Mr Museveni said, is because Tanzania and Mozambique have more gas compared to Uganda, and will, therefore, provide an alternative export pipeline for gas to Uganda.
The theme of the seventh edition of the Uganda-international Oil and Gas Conference, which ends today, is: ‘Driving the final steps in commericalisation and production.’
The Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary, Eng Irene Batebe, revealed that government is currently reviewing an application for a construction licence of the EACOP, with a tentative grant window of before end of December.
“Discussions on the financing for the project are also progressing well and construction is expected to commence in 2023,” she said.
Eng Batebe hinted that plans are in the offing to open the third licensing round to put more exploration blocks up for grabs.