The government has acquired a piece of land in Kasambya village, Katikara sub-county in Kakumiro district where one of the four labour camps will be established during construction of a 1,445 kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
The other camps are to be set up in Hoima, Mubende and Rakai which are some of the 10 districts to be traversed by the EACOP to export crude oi from Hoima to Tanga port in Tanzania.
Each labour camp is estimated to host an estimated 1,000 workers including expatriates, construction crew-welders, drivers, foremen and ICT specialists.
Martin Tiffen, the managing director for EACOP Uganda says this latest development signals the start of the construction of the project.
Already 68% out of 3,648 project affected persons were compensated in Uganda and 91% in Tanzania.
Tiffen said this has seen oil projects move at a fast pace. Speaking on Thursday at a function to officially commission completion of acquisition for the 47.22 acres of land access which will accommodate the main camp and pipe yard in Kakumiro district, Tiffen said the land will be transferred to the Uganda Commission and leased to EACOP Uganda to develop the project itself as per the Host Government Agreement.
Of these 47 acres of land, the entire 32 project affected persons have been fully compensated and the land is now free of encumbrances.
Tiffen added that they are in the process of constructing 174 replacement houses for the affected residents.
The pipeline will run under ground, covering 298 kilometres within Uganda from Kabaale village in Buseruka sub-county in Hoima to the Tanzanian border.
Irene Batebe, the Energy ministry Permanent Secretary, in a speech delivered on her behalf by Haney Malinga, the Director, Directorate for Petroleum, stressed that the land acquisition was part of the commercialisation journey where 50% of the crude will be for export and 50% refined locally.
Uganda has discovered 6.5 billion barrels of oil since 2006 where 1.4 billion barrels are considered recoverable.
Some of the planned developments to extract it by 2025 include a proposed 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery which will pick crude oil from two central processing facilities (CPFs) at Kingfisher and Tilenga in Kikuube and Buliisa districts.
After processing, the refined oil will be transported via a multi-purpose product pipeline from the refinery in Hoima to Mpigi district and others in crude form to Tanga Port in Tanzania via EACOP.
Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Prime Minister, Andrew Kirungi Byakutaga, has hailed the exemplary manner in which project affected persons were engaged, in compliance with the laws, regulations and customs of Uganda and with utmost respect for environment, local culture and human rights.
He said because of oil and gas discovery, Bunyoro kingdom is witnessing transformation with new neatly paved roads which have enhanced area residents’ access to markets and other social services.
“This is an event where life is going to get better as companies plan to invest $15b in the region, in the next 3 years, creating business and employment opportunities for our people,” Byakutaga added.
However, he said this has also brought in many people in search of business opportunities therefore putting a challenge on existing social services.
The Premier called for efforts to manage peoples’ expectations while mining oil in an environmentally sustainable manner to conserve the sensitive biodiversity of the region.
He said there is also need to train youths with skills to work in the oil and gas industry following agitation of being sidelined under the pretext that they lack skills.
“I have also received complaints of local businesses being excluded from oil contracts. Petroleum Authority, Uganda National Oil Company and EACOP, there is a need for us to sit and address these grievances,” he said.
Onesmus Mugyenyi, from ACODE which hosts civil society coalition on oil and gas demanded that civil society organisations-CSOs be allowed to freely monitor the project in order to fully be equipped with credible information. He demanded for transparency and accountability during the implementation of the EACOP Project.