Uganda to join the major African oil producing countries
The launch of the first drilling program, despite European criticism
Tuesday – Rajab 2, 1444 AH – January 24, 2023 AD-
Total CEO Patrick Boyani, Tanzanian President Samia Soloho and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe in April 2021 (Twitter)--
Cairo: Tamer El Helaly
The Ugandan government is moving ahead with oil exploration projects that may put it on the list of the largest African countries in crude production, despite European criticism of those projects.
In this context, the Uganda Petroleum Agency announced, through a tweet to it on its official account on Twitter, that the country began today (Tuesday) with a presidential mandate to “drill the first oil production well,” which “is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil per day.” at its peak once production begins in 2025.” This development comes despite European condemnations of the Ugandan project known as the “East Africa Pipeline”.
Earlier this month, the Ugandan government approved a request by a company controlled by France’s Total Energies to build a $3.5 billion oil pipeline that will transport the country’s crude to international markets. Uganda has been keen to expedite the implementation of its oil programs since last year, according to Business Insider Africa.
The new pipeline is scheduled to extend from landlocked oil fields in Uganda in the west of the country to a port on the Indian Ocean coast in Tanzania, at a distance of 1,445 km. Through this project, Uganda plans to produce about 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, which would make it more productive than some African OPEC members, according to Bloomberg.
Uganda discovered crude oil reserves in fields near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006, but disputes between the government and oil companies over taxes and the absence of appropriate infrastructure hindered attempts to develop them, according to Reuters. Government geologists estimate the country’s total reserves at 6 billion barrels, while recoverable oil is estimated at 1.4 billion barrels.
Last year, Uganda and its collaborators, Total Energies, and the government of Tanzania got into a row with the European Union over the East African Pipeline Project. In its resolution issued last September, the European Parliament condemned the Ugandan-Tanzanian projects, expressing its deep concern about “violations of human rights and environmental rights” included in the project. Environmentalists and human rights activists are campaigning against the project, claiming it will displace tens of thousands of people.
Previously, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that the project would continue, and the Ugandan government accused the European Union of practicing “economic racism.” Ugandan Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tebua said last September that the European decision was “based on misinformation,” adding that it “represents the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania.” Taibwa pointed out that Germany has revived its coal stations, and that Western countries are seeking to import gas from Africa, and said: Is energy security the monopoly of the European Union only? Doesn’t Uganda have the same right?
Tanzanian Energy Minister January Makamba joined Uganda in criticizing the decision, saying that his country “has the right to use its resources in the same way that industrialized countries use their own people.” The CEO of Total Energies, Patrick Pouyanné, criticized last year the lack of contact by the European Parliament with the company before the adoption of this decision, and said that if the contact had taken place, the company could have “informed Parliament of the inaccuracy of many of the elements contributing to its decision,” which are based on “allegations unfounded and serious.”
And the Algerian economist, Farid Ben Zakaria, believes that “the size of the oil discoveries in Uganda is very huge, and that the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments, as well as Total and other companies based on these discoveries, will reap huge profits.” Ben Zakaria told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two African governments will continue with the projects because of the dire needs of the economy, despite European criticism that is based on political prevarications, as organizations adopt a rhetoric in favor of environmental rights, while European companies are working to benefit economically to the maximum extent from these discoveries.