Hoima — Construction of the Uganda-Tanzania crude oil export pipeline is planned to start in January next year, Uganda’s Energy minister Irene Muloni has said.
Ms Muloni, who led a Ugandan team that held closed door discussions with the Tanzanian delegation in Hoima Town on Tuesday, told the media that the two countries had agreed to fast-track the project which will cover 1,443 kilometres.
Oil explorers have discovered more than 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves from about 40 per cent of the Albertine basin in western Uganda. Uganda’s new round of oil exploration licensing may see the country increasing its petroleum reserves, if the surveys prove positive.
“Every activity in respect to the project will be done in a fast tracking mode. We have agreed to meet in Tanga (Tanzania) in October this year to launch the front-end-engineering-design for the project,” Ms Muloni told the press at Miika Eco Resort and Hotel, where the meeting was held.
She added that feasibility studies estimate the project to cost $3.55 billion. Land acquisition assessments, surveys, environmental and social impact studies will be conducted before construction starts.
She said a pipeline company will be set up and Uganda, Tanzania and other interested East African states will have shares in it.
“The pipeline is very attractive and viable. Securing financing will be explored in much detail. Contacts are being made to potential funders,” Ms Muloni said.
Uganda and Tanzania political leaders and technocrats agreed to name the pipeline project reflecting the East African Community and the second ministerial meeting endorsed, “East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP)”.
According to Ms Muloni, the meeting also endorsed the use of the colours of the East African community flag in the newly-created logo for the project since it is regional and it is open to other countries in the region to join.
“The ministerial meeting agreed to develop a project schedule and work modalities to expedite necessary approvals including; land access, environmental and social aspects, routing, project agreements and other activities requiring national or local government consents,” a joint communiqué signed by Ms Muloni and her Tanzanian counterpart, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, reads in part.
Prof Muhongo said he had instructions from the Tanzanian President to ensure that the project is achieved in the shortest possible time.
“As we partner with Uganda in this project, we wish to assure our Ugandan brothers and sisters that we have the experience in pipeline construction. All our activities will be done in accelerated speed to achieve the project by 2020,” Prof Muhongo said.
He cited the 1,710-kilometre Tanzama crude pipeline between Tanzania and Zambia and Mtwara-Dar es Salaam gas pipeline covering 560.56 Kilometres as some of the projects that the Tanzanians constructed. He said 95 per cent of the pipeline in the Tanzanian territory will be close to tarmacked roads and a railway line which will make it easier to mobilise materials during construction.
Out of the 1,443 kilometres of the pipeline, more than 1,100 will be on the Tanzanian side.
“Our side is not very steep and densely populated. The route is favorable for speedy construction,” Prof Muhongo said.
He said it is the wish of the Tanzanians to use the pipeline to also export its huge gas resources to East African states. Since land in Tanzania is owned by the state, Prof Muhongo added, completing processes of land acquisition will be much faster.