East Africa: NEMA Approves ESIA Certificate for East African Crude Oil Pipeline

(file photo).

The National Environment Management Authority has issued a certificate of approval to Total East Africa Midstream B.V, for the Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) study for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project.

The certificate only applies to the Ugandan side of the pipeline. The approval for the Tanzanian section was issued on November 29, 2019.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) is a 1,443 km crude oil export pipeline is a gateway for Uganda crude oil to the international market. The pipeline will run from Kabaale - Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania. This 24-inch diameter pipeline will be insulated, buried and heated. Once completed it will become the world's heated crude oil pipeline.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) are undertaken to identify and assess the potential environmental, social and health impacts of a project; and subsequently identify adequate measures to avoid and mitigate potential impacts as well as enhance the project's benefits.

The ESIA studies for EACOP were conducted between 2017 and 2018 and covered extensive physical, biological and social baseline data collection as well as stakeholder engagement.

Handing over the certificate of approval to Total, Dr. Tom Okurut, the executive director NEMA asked the project developers to strictly comply with the terms and conditions of the certificate.

"NEMA will monitor the project in collaboration with Lead Agencies and key stakeholders, to ensure compliance with the Certificate's conditions of approval. Monitoring is a continuous process and will be undertaken during the construction, operation and decommissioning phases. This we shall do to ensure that the health, safety and security of the environment, communities and workers," he said.

Martin Tiffen, the General Manager EACOP project, described the approval as a milestone, "This is a significant milestone for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project and is the result of several years of collaborative work with many specialists and stakeholders to reach this point.

The issuance of the EACOP ESIA certificate is a significant milestone for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project and the country, as it brings us closer to the realization of the Final Investment Decision and the subsequent development of the Oil & Gas sector in Uganda," he said.

As required by the National Environment Act and in fulfilment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, the first EACOP project report was submitted to NEMA for review on January 15, 2019. The public, including representatives of Project Affected Communities were engaged to understand their concerns in regard to the project.

This process included 3 public hearings in liaison with the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) on October 21, 23 and 25; 2019, in the districts of Kakumiro, Mubende and Rakai.

Stakeholder engagement meetings were also undertaken in the 10 pipeline districts crossed by the pipeline - of Hoima, Kikuube, Kyankwanzi, Kakumiro, Mubende, Gomba, Rakai, Lwengo, Kyotera, and Sembabule.

Having addressed the regulator's comments that included issues that arose during the public engagements, EACOP/TEAM submitted the final Environment Impact Assessment Report on August 7, 2020.

NEMA reviewed the resubmitted ESIA and has now issued the certificate of approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Statement for the EACOP Project.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline project will yield substantial Foreign Direct Investment in Uganda and Tanzania during the construction phase.

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