OIL INDUSTRY

The Pipeline of Broken Promises: Works on the East Africa Pipeline continue

INTRODUCTION

With a projected cost of $3.55 billion and climbing, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline will be the longest electrically heated pipeline in the world. Though the works will provide jobs across the project’s route, the impacts on local communities, species and livelihoods continue to be devastating. Locals have been left confused by the project’s implications and betrayed by the broken promises of the oil companies that displace them. The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline is the pipeline of broken promises for communities across East Africa.

THE EAST AFRICA CRUDE OIL PIPELINE

The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline often referred to as EACOP, is a projected oil, the pipeline which will span 1,445 kilometres, pumps oil between Uganda and Tanzania. The project has been backed by major French and Chinese companies, as well as worldwide banks, though it has been criticised due to its impact on both people and
nature.

THE IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES

Locals have been displaced across the proposed route to make way for construction work. Despite promises of compensation, oil companies have not been as giving as they had initially suggested. Residents have been offered meagre sums in return for their properties. For instance, 73-year-old Edison Basheija has vowed never to accept
the 39,715 Ugandan shillings (approximately 11 US dollars) that he was offered, stating ‘our survival depends on land.’

Villagers of the Kijungu settlements have also been drastically impacted by the works, with one local, Adrin Tugume, stating, ‘We are only going to suffer instead of gaining and getting our lives changed’. The impact on communities is making irreparable damage to livelihoods and standards of living. Oxfam has urged Total, the main oil company involved in EACOP, to ‘provide immediate financial or in-kind assistance to communities currently affected by EACOP’.

THE IMPACT ON NATURE

The pipeline also poses threats to nature. Thirty-four plants of conservation have been identified in the path of the route, and many endangered species can also be found on the pipeline’s path. The galago of Zanzibar, the Masiliwa snout burrower, and the bubbling puddle frogs are all animals of conservation importance which are threatened
by EACOP’s planned route.

Aside from the effect on nature, the pipeline will also have devastating effects on the global environment. Experts say that the pipeline will produce more than 34 million tonnes of carbon annually, which is significantly greater than the emissions of Uganda and Tanzania combined. At a time when reduction of our global carbon footprint is
more crucial than ever before, the pipeline will serve as a setback to the international efforts to defend against climate destruction.

INTERNATIONAL OUTCRY

The project has been met with a strong backlash, across Africa and internationally. Reverend Fletcher Harper, Director of Green Faith International said ‘the moral insanity of EACOP becomes even more evident when we recognise that barely 25% of Ugandans and fewer than 35% of Tanzanians have access to modern sources of
energy’.

Moreover, Diana Nabiruma of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance stated that ‘oil is not the ‘black gold’ as we are led to believe, and the position of Ugandans who have been affected by EACOP is simple.’

THE FUTURE

Through the efforts of local and international groups, there are ways to ensure that the communities that lay in the path of the pipeline are protected and safeguarded. Oxfam’s the report has set out clear suggestions for EACOP to ensure the safety of communities, and the work of global movements such as the #StopEACOP movement has put the implications of the plans into the global spotlight.

Though the chances of halting the project are slim, there is hope for the communities that have been made empty promises by the oil companies. With global pressure on the oil companies involved in EACOP mounting, it becomes ever more likely that the affected communities may finally receive justice.

Matt Robyns-Landricome

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