Uganda’s Planned Pipeline Threatens Communities, Oxfam Says

Uganda’s planned oil pipeline will result in more than 12,000 families losing their land and the development threatens sensitive ecosystems, according to research by Oxfam International.

The East African nation’s crude industry has “opaque processes” to compensate affected communities, the London-based charity said in a statement. Oil majors and the state should address the issues before the next stage of the project, it said.

Total SE is leading plans to build the 1,445-kilometer (898-mile) East African Crude Oil Pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania’s coastline along with partner Cnooc Ltd. and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania. The $3.5-billion facility, which hasn’t yet reached a final investment decision, has already faced opposition from environmental activists.

“Local groups claim they are unable to freely visit villages affected by oil projects and note that consultations about oil development are often perfunctory rather than participatory,” Oxfam said.

Total has been engaging with the local communities since the start of the development and welcomed recommendations made in the reports in several areas, the company said in an emailed response to questions. The projects were designed to limit the impact on local populations, with 488 households being relocated along the pipeline’s route, it said.

‘Good Compensation’

The government has offered “good compensation” and built houses and hospitals for the people affected, according to Hanns Kyazze, Uganda’s energy ministry spokesman. “It is a handful, a small margin who have not been addressed because they chose to go to court.”

Uganda, which discovered commercially viable crude reserves in 2006, has an estimated 6 billion barrels of resources and plans to start pumping oil in 2023-24, according to the government.

“Despite promises about jobs and a better future, communities are worried about lost land, a damaged environment, and the empty promises of oil money,” said Caroline Brodeur, a private sector adviser to Oxfam.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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