Corporates Kenya

East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will Help Make Energy Poverty History in Africa by 2030

he East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) represents a critical solution to making energy poverty history in Africa by 2030. In addition to transporting much-needed oil across the region and improving energy security by connecting hydrocarbon-rich basins in Uganda with both its regional and international destinations, the pipeline will be instrumental for job creation, local community empowerment and wider socioeconomic growth. However, despite its significance, western environmentalist groups are demanding the abandonment of the project, citing environmental concerns. But at what point does Africa’s energy needs and the wellbeing of the people take precedence over sensationalist eco-socialism?

The EACOP – also known as the Uganda-Tanzania crude oil pipeline – is a 1,443km long crude oil pipeline that will link Uganda’s oilfields to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania. The pipeline, with capacity to transport approximately 216,000 barrels per day, is estimated to cost $3.5 billion, and once complete, will represent the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world. Currently, Standard Bank of South Africa is advising the governments of Uganda and Tanzania, with the ownership of the pipeline shared between TotalEnergies (62%); the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) (8%); the Uganda National Pipeline Company (15%); and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (15%).

Following the discovery of commercially viable quantities of oil in Uganda’s Lake Albert basin and the completion of exploration by the CNOOC, TotalEnergies and Tullow in 2006, the 1,443km EACOP was proposed. Comprising part of the wider Lake Albert Development Project, the pipeline will transport oil produced in Uganda to international markets, generating critical revenue for the entire East African community. The majority shareholder, TotalEnergies, proudly announced a $10 billion final investment decision for the project in February 2022, kickstarting development and ushering in a new era of energy security for the region.

For Africa, the pipeline represents the solution for addressing energy poverty while driving socioeconomic growth through the empowerment of local communities. During the construction phase alone, the pipeline is expected to create thousands of high-paying jobs and significant opportunities for local companies such as contractors. What’s more, Tanzania and Uganda are expected to see a 60% increase in foreign direct investment, with more capital expected to flow throughout the project’s subsequent stages. The long-term employment, guaranteed energy security and broader economic benefits brought about from construction emphasize its importance for driving development in Africa. Simply put, if EACOP fails, Africa will remain energy poor.

“Ugandans and Tanzanians should not have to pay the price for western, developed nations. It makes no sense to oppose the construction of the pipeline. If EACOP fails, there will be no guarantee of employment, with a lot of the population remaining energy poor for years to come, and investment directed towards East African exploration will dry up. Africa does not deserve this. Africa deserves the rights to develop its resources and that includes the EACOP,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

The call by climate activists to #StopEACOP is detrimental, not just for East Africa’s energy future, but for the wellbeing of the regional community itself. In addition to fighting against the construction and operation of the project, activists are targeting the funding of the project, with 20 large-scale banks having been convinced not to finance the pipeline. Despite these attacks, project developers remain resilient, recognizing the value of the pipeline.

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