Civil works at the first construction camp for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline Project in Uganda are almost complete. A worker at the site said that he was happy that the project was finally about to take off after years of waiting. To him, the EACOP project has reached a “Point of no return”
The project has faced opposition from Western campaigners and their local allies claiming that it will be destructive to the environment.
The ‘Stop EACOP’ campaigners also alleged human rights violations. Broad opposition and obstacles to securing finance may yet undo one of Africa’s most ambitious fossil fuel projects
Works at the site which included clearing, and leveling were contracted to Pearl Engineering Company Ltd in August this year by TotalEnergies.
Pearl Engineering had by mid-last week accomplished about 95% of the earthworks at the site. It is expected to hand over the site to the main contractor this week according to Ahmed Arafatalifrangji, the EACOP Construction Lead. “Currently we are closing our activities. The big job has been done.”
Arafatalifranji has been overseeing similar works on the Tanzanian side of the East African Crude Oil Project. In an interview, he seemed happy with the work so far accomplished by Pearl Engineering and others working at the site located in Nyamasoga Village in Kabaale Hoima district.
. “I was not here at the time when they began the job. I can see that they did a good job. As you can see, they kept six trees inside the site without touching them. Which is very good from environmental protection point of view,” observes Ahmed Arafat Alfangi
One of the more visible above-ground projects now underway is that of the workers’ camp to be located in a fenced-off area. The camp will host about three hundred workers of China’s Petroleum Pipeline Engineering (CPP).
CPP is a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corporation or CNOOC. It was contracted to carry out the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction of the 1,445-kilometer pipeline from Hoima, Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.
The area where the camp is to be constructed covers an area measuring over 35000 square meters by 103 meters. All the shrubs, grasses, and most of the shorter trees were cleared to pave the way for the construction phase.
Six trees that were carefully avoided stand in juxtaposition to the red earth whose topsoil has been stored at one side of the site fenced with a chain link. “We are closing our activities, we are almost 95% completed,” said Arafat Arafatalifranji, who is due to head back to Tanzania which will host the longest section of the pipeline. All workers at the site are dressed in full personal protective gear.
No one gets on the site without basic safety equipment — a hard plastic helmet, safety glasses, a high visibility vest, and hard safety boots. A Safety officer is permanently deployed on-site. Safety and security, are the two words used almost interchangeably. The proposed construction camp at Nyamasoga known as MC-PSI will mark the beginning of the heated crude oil pipeline.
The spot will be the receiving point for crude oil produced from the CNOOC’s Kingfisher project and TotalEnergies’ Tilenga project. The EACOP project covers the upstream and midstream. The midstream component of the project involves the controversial 1445-kilometer pipeline from Hoima to Tanga.
The EACOP will traverse the ten (10) districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Gomba, Mubende, Lwengo, Sembabule, Kyotera and Rakai in Uganda. It is expected to cost about US$3.6bn. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company (EACOP) Ltd was on the 24th of January 2023 granted a license for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.
The project has suffered a number of delays related to funding since the Final Investment Decision of the Lake Albert Development Project was taken in February 2022.
The longest-heated crude oil pipeline is expected to transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day. According to Ahmed Arafat Talifrangi, their aim is to complete the construction of the entire pipeline by the end of December 2025.
“Our target is to achieve completion by December 2025. It’s a two-year job. Recently, CPP and other contractors began mobilizing. Just to have an idea about the infrastructure we have in Uganda, we have two pumping stations, PS1 and PSII” he said
Apart from the two pumping stations, the project will have six main camps and pipe yards. Ahmed Arafatalifranji, who has worked on similar projects in countries like Kazakhstan is confident that the work can be accomplished on time to deliver Uganda’s first oil if the actual construction of the pipeline takes off in early 2024.
“This is where the journey begins. We have 97 kilometers upstream, the remaining is midstream. Here in pump station one, we have one pipe of ten inches coming from Kingfisher, and another ten inches going to the future refinery, we have a 24-inch pipeline coming from Tilenga and a 24-inch pipeline going to Tanga. So this is the zero start,” Ahmed Arafat Talifrangi explains.
Pearl Engineering is within a week expected to demobilize and move to the next site the next major construction site to be located in Kakukumiro. Other construction camps will be located in Mubende, Sembabule, and Kyotera. Sembabule will have two construction camps named MCPY3 and MC-PS2.