An East African court on Wednesday dismissed a legal action against a megaproject by French oil company TotalEnergies in Uganda and Tanzania, the target of fierce criticism from environmental and human rights groups.
The East African Court of Justice, located in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, declared itself incompetent to rule on this legal action filed in 2020 by several civil society groups, on the grounds that it had been filed too late.
TotalEnergies’ EACOP megaproject, the subject of a ten-billion-dollar investment agreement with Uganda, Tanzania and China’s CNOOC, includes the drilling of 419 wells in western Uganda and the construction of a 1,443-kilometer heated pipeline linking the Lake Albert deposits to the Tanzanian coast on the Indian Ocean.
Championed by President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda with an iron fist since 1986, the project is strongly opposed by environmentalists, who believe it threatens the region’s fragile ecosystem and people.
The civil society groups that took the case to the East African Court of Justice denounced the decision as “unjust”.
“The ruling shows a continuity in the way in which Northern countries and various government institutions in Africa remain blind to the destruction of the environment and the impact of oil and gas on the climate,” said Lucien Limacher, of the environmental organization Natural Justice, which works in Africa, in a statement.
In September, four environmental associations – Darwin Climax Coalitions, Sea Shepherd France, Wild Legal and Stop EACOP-Stop Total in Uganda – filed a “climaticide” complaint against the group and its project.
Lake Albert, in western Uganda, contains an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil, of which 1.4 billion barrels are currently considered recoverable.
Uganda’s first oil is due to come on stream in 2025, almost two decades after the reserves were discovered, a project hailed by Yoweri Museveni as an economic boon for this landlocked country where many inhabitants live in poverty.
Source : Africanews