Uganda seeks more land for oil pipeline

Tuesday September 5 2017

A rig in Buliisa in Uganda. The country hopes

A rig in Buliisa in Uganda. The country hopes to complete a joint pipeline with Tanzania in three years. PHOTO FILE | NMG 

By HALIMA ABDALLAH
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The Ugandan government now wants more land for the pipeline from its Hoima oilfields to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.

Originally, the government and the companies participating in the oil project indicated they required a strip of 30 metres for the pipeline and way leaves, but a new requirement estimate has more than tripled this to 133 metres along the 296km stretch in the Ugandan territory.

Lands Minister Betty Amongi said the extra land is required for a utility corridor to cater for associated infrastructure along the pipeline, including a dual carriageway, power lines and fibre optic cables.

“We have to acquire land along the pipeline corridor to provide for other critical infrastructure,” Ms Amongi told an oil conference in Entebbe organised by Oxfam Uganda and Oxfam Tanzania.

Controversial issue

Land for public infrastructure remains one of the most controversial issues in Uganda today.

The acquisition of 29 sq, kilometres for a refinery in Kabale moved fairly smoothly with complaints over compensation values for project affected persons being addressed while a few who opted for relocation have been handed keys to houses built for them.

However other infrastructure like schools, and health facilities are still a work in progress.

Elsewhere in the country protests by nude elderly women have become a signature form of resistance to government land acquisition efforts.

A Constitutional amendment to give government powers to compulsorily acquire land to carry on with critical infrastructure to avoid delays caused by disputes over compensation has kicked up a storm across the country.

Land from both sides

According to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) fact sheet, land will be required on both the Uganda and Tanzania sides. And 80 per cent of the 1,445km long heated pipeline will be in Tanzania. The heating will aid the highly viscous crude oil to flow.

According to the original plan, the pipeline requires the 30 metres width on a temporal and permanent basis. At the start all the 30 metres will be required to allow right of way for the construction.

The land required for temporal use will be leased for between one to four years after which it shall be returned to the owners in a fully reinstated condition. By the new plan all the 133 metres will be kept free of use by locals along the line.

The land will be used for permanent ground installations like pumping stations, pressure reduction stations and marine storage and for a permanent right of way.

In addition, after the construction works, EACOP will need easements along the pipeline corridor with some restrictions in key safety zones.

The joint pipeline project is one of the key infrastructure to evacuate an estimated 200,000bpd of oil from Uganda’s Albertine Graben.

Jointly owned

The governments of Tanzania and Uganda that will jointly own the pipeline with private investors signed the Crude Oil Export Pipeline Framework agreement on May 26 and commissioned works three months later.

The deal covered terms on tax incentives, implementation timelines, the size of the pipeline and local content levels.

The project is expected to cost $3.5 billion and is to be completed in three years.

The pipeline is expected to be financed through equity and bank loans. One identified bank it has merged is the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World.

“IFC does not operate like the World Bank that can be taken for coffee and negative issues resolved. IFC sets tough conditions for its loans so that it is sure it will recoup. If you have issues with communities and land, it cannot give you the money,” said a source familiar with the economics.

In an interview two weeks ago, however, junior minister in charge of minerals, Pert Lokeris, told The EastAfrican that government requires additional land for other development, and the compensation cost will be met by the Uganda government.