Uganda: Oil pipeline talks enter final stages

16 April 2016, Kampala — Officials from Kenya and Tanzania arrived in the country on Tuesday for a three-day meeting to continue discussions with their Ugandan counterparts to narrow down on three options for the proposed crude oil export pipeline.

Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda.

Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda.

The Kenyan team led by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, the Tanzanian team and Ugandan technocrats from the Petroleum Directorate headed by Mr Ernest Rubondo, the executive director, were said to be in the final stage negotiations preparing a draft report on the three routes, Lamu, Mombasa and Tanga, as a destination for the $4b infrastructure.

The report will be presented to the heads of state and adopted at the upcoming 13th Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) Summit due in Kampala on April 23, where a “final position” will be taken.

All senior officials have been tight-lipped on the course of the discussions, but one official cited the “wayward high stakes involved.”

Energy minister Irene Muloni on Wednesday confirmed the meeting in Kampala and said “the officials are working round the clock to have the report ready.”

Initially, the three countries were torn between the northern route to Kenyan Lamu Archipelago on the Indian Ocean coast, and a route down south to Tanzania via Masaka to Bukoba and onto Tanga port also at the Indian Ocean coast.

However, in the wake of last month’s meeting between President Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan side added the “Mombasa route” on the table. The meeting hence tasked technocrats to harmonise findings contained in the various feasibility studies on the three routes and come up with one report.

The Japanese engineering firm Toyota Tsusho in 2014 conducted and submitted results of a feasibility study on the Lamu and Mombasa routes, but recommended the 1,300km (808 mile) Lamu route citing the need to tap into the economies of scale of LAPSETT corridor–a joint infrastructure project of South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The 1,403-kilometre (876-miles) southern route is backed by French oil giant Total SA, one of the three oil firms licensed to operate in Uganda together with UK’s Tullow Oil PLC and China’s Cnooc. Total has also conducted a study on this route and says is willing to bankroll the project.

 – The Monitor
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