TotalEnergies audits land in Uganda, Tanzania oil projects

Thursday January 04 2024

TotalEnergies employees work during construction at the central processing facility in Buliisa, Uganda on February 20, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


French energy giant TotalEnergies on Thursday said it had launched a land acquisition assessment for controversial $10 billion projects in Uganda and Tanzania slammed by environmentalists.

"This mission will evaluate the land acquisition procedures implemented, the conditions for consultation, compensation and relocation of the populations concerned, and the grievance handling mechanism," the statement said, adding that it would submit its report by April.

TotalEnergies is pushing ahead with its Tilenga drilling project in Uganda and 1,443-kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) to the coast in Tanzania in the face of opposition from activists and environmentalists.

Read: Eacop above-the-ground installations take shape

Tilenga targets oil under the rich Murchison Falls nature reserve in western Uganda with a planned 419 wells, triggering fears among opponents of the projects for the region's fragile ecosystem and the people who live there.

TotalEnergies, which is working with Chinese oil company CNOOC on the plans, says on its website that going ahead would mean "relocating 775 primary residences, and will affect a total of 18,800 stakeholders, landowners and land users".


But Human Rights Watch called in July for the plans to be halted, saying in a report that it had already "devastated thousands of people’s livelihoods in Uganda".

The oilfield would "ultimately displace over 100,000 people," it charged.

Four environmental groups have filed a criminal complaint on climate grounds against TotalEnergies in France.

Read: TotalEnergies in second suit over Uganda oil projects

TotalEnergies said Thursday it had named Benin's former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou to lead its land acquisition assessment, calling him a "recognised expert in African economic development".

Zinsou has worked with TotalEnergies in the past through his consulting company.