Ugandan experts explain choice of Tanzania for pipeline route

20Apr 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Ugandan experts explain choice of Tanzania for pipeline route

THE recommended Tanzanian route for a planned key pipeline from Uganda will allow that country to start exporting its crude oil to the world market via the Indian Ocean by mid-2020,

President John Magufuli na President Yowel Mseven

while an alternative route through Kenya would take the project until at least 2022 to complete, Ugandan technocrats have explained.

A leaked official report following recent negotiation meetings in Kampala has further confirmed that the Ugandan experts decided on the Tanzanian route to the port of Tanga as by far a better option than the Kenyan one to the port of Lamu.

Both Ugandan and Kenyan media outlets yesterday cited the document, dated April 11 this year, as proof that Tanzania had been chosen for the pipeline despite spirited lobbying by a Kenyan delegation that was camped in Kampala since last month.

“The comprehensive analysis of the different options, studies and due diligence results has been completed.

The Kabaale (Uganda) - Tanga route is the only option to secure first oil export by mid-2020, with pipeline availability of 99 per cent,” the experts’ report was quoted as saying.

According to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Prof Justin Ntalikwa, who was part of the Tanzanian delegation to the Kampala talks, the proceedings began with a meeting of the respective technical committees from all three countries involved (Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya).

This was followed by another meeting involving the permanent secretaries of the ministries responsible for energy matters from the three countries, and finally a meeting of the ministers themselves, Prof Ntalikwa told The Guardian last week.

The official submission and signing of the contract for pipeline construction to commence will take place during the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State summit which begins tomorrow in Kampala, the PS said.

The wrangle between Tanzania and Kenya for the potentially lucrative pipeline project has been simmering since early March when President John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni announced that they had reached a concrete deal on the matter.

This was followed days later by a formal assurance from one of the key sponsors - the French oil firm Total – that the funds needed for the project (around $4 billion) was already available for construction to begin as soon as everything was all set.

Kenyan authorities were obviously not very happy with these rapid-fire developments, especially since Uganda had earlier been in tentative talks with them over the same pipeline deal.

It has since transpired that serious security issues, the extraordinarily rough Rift Valley terrain, and land acquisition hurdles had also been tagged as major disadvantages of the proposed Kenyan route.

The pipeline is thus set to link rich oil fields in land-locked Uganda’s Lake Albert basin with the Indian Ocean coast via Tanga, creating an estimated 1,500 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs while increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Tanzania by more than 50 per cent per annum.

Upon completion, it will have the capacity to transport up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the project blueprint.

It is estimated that there are about 6.5 billion barrels of oil accessible in Lake Albert, with 1.4 -1.7 billion barrels already confirmed as recoverable and available for transportation. ends