Buliisa Football Mini League Kicks Off

By George Busiinge

The Buliisa football mini-league facilitated by TotalEnergies kicked off on Sunday in Buliisa district. Sixteen men’s football teams and six women’s football teams from different sub-counties in Buliisa are taking part.

While flagging off Total-Buliisa mini football league in the presence of key Buliisa district local leaders, the District Education Officer Godfrey Muhumuza appreciated the oil company for their kindness.

Damien Balossier from TotalEnergies said: "We organize the league to promote sportsmanship, talent search & development in the Company's areas of operation. This aligns with the company's commitment to youth inclusion & engagement with host communities.”

Caroline Namyalo, the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at TotalEnergies the mini football league was introduced in 2014. It was hoped that it would increase interaction between the company and local people.

It was hoped that it would promote unity and healthy living among the young people.

The matches will be held at four different school playgrounds in Buliisa. These will include Uganda Martyrs, Avogera, Biiso, and Booma.

TotalEnergies also facilitated the refurbishment of these playing grounds.

Oil Projects Affected Persons Renew Call For Speedy Trial Of Compensation Cases

Fred Balikenda, a resident of Kirama village, in Kigwera Sub County, Buliisa district is a bitter man. His anguish stems from the discovery of oil and gas in his home district Buliisa. 

While the country is basking in the possibility of reaping billions of American dollars from the discovered oil and gas, Balikenda is counting losses and homelessness. 

When the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and the government of Uganda embarked on the development phase of the country’s oil sector, Balikenda’s land in Kirama village was identified to host an oil well. 

The process to acquire his land commenced and has since dragged on to no end leaving him distressed, bitter and broke. 

Balikenda and TotalEnergies, the operator of the Tilenga Project in Buliisa, agreed that he, and his 12 children, should be resettled at a piece of land which had been identified in Kirama. 

But years later, this hasn’t been achieved because, according to TotalEnergies, there were delays in acquiring land to resettle Balikenda. 

This has left Balikenda with no place to confidently call home because of the delays in resettling him. 

While TotalEnergies is building a house for him at a new site, the oil company has fenced off his old land leaving him to live in a cage of sorts. 

This restrictive fencing off by the French company has led to the death of his two (pregnant) pigs that have been a source of his income.

Also, because TotalEnergies has started developing his old land to prepare for the digging of the oil well, Balikenda cannot undertake any economic activity on the land. 

His children are not going to school because he has no income to facilitate their education and the family constantly hopes to be relocated. 

Balikenda is now demanding that TotalEnergies compensates him for the lost pigs and poultry, land, time and rights abused. 

TotalEnergies which is in constant dialogue with Balikenda has offered to rent him a house in Kirama village as it waits to complete the construction at the site where he is supposed to be resettled, an offer Balikenda turned down. 

The story of Balikenda is one of the many oil and gas Projects Affected Persons (PAPs) in Buliisa, Hoima and Kikuube districts have faced and live to tell, with sad faces.  

To get redress, Balikenda and other PAPs, with the help of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) have taken these matters to court, but even there, justice has not been forthcoming. 

Recently, AFIEGO and partners wrote to Dr Flavian Zeija, The Principal Judge, informing him of their planned protest showing dissatisfaction with Uganda’s judiciary for the delay in deciding Civil Suit No. 059 of 2021.

The affected PAPs, with support from AFIEGO, in March 2014, filed a case under Article 50 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution seeking redress over the violation of their constitutional rights including the right to receive prompt, fair, and adequate compensation before the acquisition or possession of their land.

And today, 9th March 2023, AFIEGO and some of the PAPs addressed a press conference in Kampala at Hotel Africana indicating that they had petitioned the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Norbert Mao, the chief justice Alfonse Owinyi Dollo and his deputy, Richard Buteera, over the delayed hearing of their compensation cases.

Through the petition, the PAPs and AFIEGO want the judiciary officials to intervene and stop the ongoing injustices caused by delayed hearing of their cases to save the oil-affected communities from further suffering. 

They also issued an ultimatum.

“Within one month from to date, if the judiciary fails to respect the people’s constitutional rights such as a right to a speedy trial, hundreds of the oil-affected persons will walk from the villages and protest at the offices of the Chief Justices, Deputy Chief Justice, Principal Judge, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Inspectorate of Government and other authorizes,” the PAPs warned.  


TotalEnergies offers scholarships to female PLE top performers

BY George Busiinge


TotalEnergies EP Uganda (TEPU) has awarded scholarships to 20 girls who passed their 2022 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) in first grade in Buliisa and Nwoya Districts. Each district received 10 scholarships.

Besides the scholarship, each student was also given a mattress, one dozen petroleum jelly, one dozen laundry soap, reams of paper, exercise books and Shs200, 000 for upkeep among others.

The beneficiaries are studying at St Andrea Kaahwa’s College in Hoima city and Sacred Heart Secondary School in Gulu.

Handing the items to the beneficiaries at the function that took place on 15th February 2023, the Buliisa District Chairman, Fred Lukumu, urged parents to encourage and support their girl children in education now that TotalEnergies EP Uganda is lending them a hand to ensure that girls also continue with education like their male counterparts.

He urged them to ascertain that they advise their girl children not to drop out of school to avoid ruining their chance at this time when they are being sponsored by France’s oil giant.

“We appreciate TotalEnergies for promoting education for girls in the district. We also appreciate the efforts by parents to have these girl children perform well.

“However, we encourage them to ensure that they advise them to focus on education only so that they don’t drop out of school due to other trivial issues that can ruin their future,” Mr Lukumu said.

Speaking at the ceremony held at Buliisa district headquarters, the Buliisa District Education Officer (DEO), Tyson Kasangaki Kiiza, attributed the low academic performance among girl children in the district to some parents’ failure to support them in different aspects.

He observed that stakeholders have also for long disregarded exposing girl children to a wider education spectrum causing them to lag in academic circles.

“Most parents are unsupportive of their girl children educationally, subject them to child labour and conceal defilement cases. Taking a long time to introduce girls to education makes a girl child unable to continue with education because they feel having become old enough past primary seven.” Kiiza said.

The DEO was concerned that 316 unqualified teachers are serving in the 30 primary schools in the district and only 13 appointed ones.

Calorine Namyalo, the CSR manager of TEPU, said the developer of the Tilenga oil project took the initiative of providing scholarships in 2015 after realizing that the girl child in Buliisa and Nwoya districts was so disadvantaged in attaining education.

However, she said that the company provides scholarships for both male and female students who excel in their advanced level of education to enable the two genders to be on the same footing in education.

Robert Mukonyezi, a parent to Patience Atuhurra, who is among the scholarship beneficiaries appreciated TotalEnergies Uganda for offering the girl children the scholarship saying despite their children performing well academically, some parents are too poor to pay tuition fees for them.

Atuhurra passed in Division One after scoring an aggregate of 12 at Ndandamire primary school.

Mukonyezi revealed that several challenges are hindering girl children from climbing more academic ladders due to the conditions in their environs.

The parent wants local leaders at all levels to sensitize parents about the benefits of education.

To Stop Or To Support Eacop

In recent times, most especially after the signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) in February this year, government agencies and personalities intensified efforts to promote, protect and make a case for Uganda's premier oil and gas infrastructure project, the East African Crude Pipeline. 

A campaign codenamed Support EACOP was rolled out to counter Stop EACOP, a campaign which over the years has been traded by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that look at the $3.5bn Pipeline as a climate change facilitator by potentially emitting over 34 million tons of CO2 emissions every single year. 

According to revised plans, the Pipeline construction is scheduled to start in 2023 and be ready in 2025 when Uganda will realize First Oil.

The 1444km pipeline will carry crude oil from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga where it will be shipped to the international market. The EACOP project developers are TotalEnergies (62%), the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments (15% each) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (8%). 

The pipeline, which will be the longest electrically-heated crude oil pipeline in the world, will transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Tilenga and Kingfisher oil fields. Apart from carrying the Ugandan waxy black gold and the subsequent revenue, it will give Uganda, the Pipeline development will create hundreds of jobs and offer numerous business opportunities to Ugandans and Tanzanians. 

The snaking infrastructure, like the ongoing Support EACOP & Stop EACOP debate, has positive and negative sides. 


The government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) had for the long haul ignored the anti-fossil fuels campaigners to go on with the EACOP smear campaign until now. The environmentalists, local and international organizations and individuals called on the government to abandon the multibillion-dollar project. 

On seeing that the government was not yielding, they turned their focus on the potential financiers of the Pipeline like banks and insurance companies. And indeed they managed to get some American and European banks to back off and indicate that they cannot fund the project because of the risks it poses to the environment and its contribution to climate change. Financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and others have ruled out any financing role. Insurance heavyweights Munich Re, Allianz, Axa and Beazley will not provide any cover. TotalEnergies has not come out to address this matter but their operations in Uganda have remained steady. 

In an interview with Daily Monitor, Mr. Peter Muliisa, the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer said they have 'entities from Europe, from Asia and all over the world willing to finance EACOP. He told the newspaper that they will be able to announce the chosen financiers in July. According to the Center for International Environment Law, Japanese Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) is acting as financial advisor to TotalEnergies in a deal that will see a yet-to-be-named Japanese bank bankroll the transboundary project. TotalEnergies by proximity to CNOOC is also said to be considering going to China in search of a capable financier.


The global conversation regarding the energy transition that will see the world move on from fossil fuels to clean energy put projects like the EACOP in a difficult position and developing countries like Uganda set to adversely be affected by this transition are putting up a fight. 

These poor countries want to extract oil and gas at any cost. And with the financial backing of international companies, as we are seeing in Uganda, the developing countries will proceed to harvest the hydrocarbons as they keenly observe the clean green energy game so that they don’t miss out on anything. 

In Uganda, there is the political will for the country to extract the hydrocarbons from the ground, refine them for the domestic market and export the rest to the international market which is the part where the EACOP comes in. 

But to achieve this, Uganda has to deal with local CSOs that have the backing and influence of their counterparts from the West. They want Uganda to abort its mission of extracting its oil and join the energy transition trend swaying into the renewable and green energy side.  

The anti-EACOP campaigners in Uganda led by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a CSO leading 13 others on his cause, argues that the EACOP project poses immense social, economic, environmental, and biodiversity and climate change risks. The CSOs alert that these risks are set to, directly and indirectly, affect forests, national parks, game reserves, lakes, rivers, wetlands and others in Uganda and Tanzania.


AFIEGO, quoting a 2017 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report reveals that the EACOP will affect 2,000km of protected areas and will fragment habitats for elephants, chimpanzees and other endangered animals in protected areas like Bugoma, Wambabya and Taala forests in Uganda as well as Minziro Nature Forest Reserve and Burigi-Biharamulo Game Reserve in Tanzania.

It is also believed that the EACOP is set to affect wetlands belonging to Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika as well as the Wami/Ruvu and Pagani basins. Other wetland systems that are likely to be impacted include the Sango Bay-Musambwa Island, Nabajjuzi and Lake Nabugabo, Mabamba Bay, Lutembe bay and others.

The conservationists say that the pipeline poses a great risk to the rich biodiversity – the forests, game reserves, lakes, wetlands and other protected areas which are habitats for internationally-recognized endangered species. Bugoma forest in Uganda hosts over 600 chimpanzees or 12% of Uganda’s chimpanzee population; the wetland systems are important bird areas for both migratory and other bird species.

Some of the social impacts include the possibility of EACOP affecting a total of 13,000 households in Uganda and Tanzania. These households are losing land, houses, homes and a way of life. 

As they waited for compensation, the Project Affected Persons were stopped from using their land to grow perennial food and cash crops leading to food scarcity, reduced family incomes, psychosocial distress, school drop-outs, and abuse of their cultural rights and others. 

In the long-term, community and public expenditure on health, climate change crises and others could increase because of the EACOP. Air pollution, oil spills and others will worsen community health.


Despite all these fears being raised by the CSOs, the EACOP project, like the other oil projects will go ahead as planned with the full blessings of the government including well-received approvals from the National Environment Management Authority which supervises and certifies all Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted before any project commences. The EACOP, after a rigorous ESIA exercise, was okayed by NEMA and will proceed. Internally, the IOCs, TotalEnergies and CNOOC Uganda, base their and international based. 

TotalEnergies recently launched the Tilenga Biodiversity Program, an initiative aimed at protecting and conserving biodiversity in and around the Tilenga project area. This gesture has been looked at as evidence and commitment from TotalEnergies indicating that prioritizing nature was top of the company’s agenda.

Mr. Philippe Groueix, the General Manager of TotalEnergies, said they are mindful of the sensitive context within which they are undertaking their activities. "We have thus committed to ensuring that we implement action plans designed to produce a net positive impact on biodiversity. The biodiversity program will ensure a sustainable approach in working with the community towards protecting and conserving the ecologically rich area.”

Speaking at the 3rd National Local Content Conference Ms. Pauline Macronald, the Environment & Biodiversity Manager at TotalEnergies said the company strives to manage the environmental effects of all its projects & operations according to the Mitigation Hierarchy principles of avoidance, minimization, restoration & offsetting. 

To enhance Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services, Ms. Macronald, revealed that TotalEnergies has partnered with NEMA, National Forestry Authority, Ministry of Water, ECOTRUST, Uganda Wildlife, Petroleum Authority and Wildlife Conservation Society to ensure a positive impact on wildlife & communities. 

Mr. John B. Habumugisha the Deputy Managing Director of EACOP Limited, a company that was formed to do business, discussing Environment and Social Governance elaborated that as a company, they continue to insist that anything they do around EACOP must be stringently compliant to the environmental and Social requirements. "In terms of the environment, we have avoided most of the sensitive areas & the design levels are stringent. Our system ensures that we don't have issues of spillage," said Mr. Habumugisha.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the industry regulator, has fully backed the project saying that IOCs have done the necessary due diligence to ensure the safe production and transportation of oil through EACOP. Dr Joseph Kobusheshe the Director HSE at Petroleum Authority explained that Environment and Social Governance has become an important measure of sustainability.


The emergence of the pumped-up Support EACOP agenda knocking out Stop EACOP with verve reignited a public debate on what is the right thing to do. This debate also came at a time when the war in Eastern Europe between Ukraine and Russia was causing a scarcity of crude oil and sky-rocketing fuel prices globally. 

The war and the subsequent sanctions by the EU and partners on Russia created a scarcity of Natural Liquefied Gas. These scarcities and the outcry that resulted somehow underscored the fact that fossil fuels still drive the day-to-day lives of people across the world and that the world cannot afford to live without them. 

In a highly publicized article, President Yoweri Museveni May this year described efforts by developed countries to impose a moratorium on fossil fuel investment across the world as 'misguided'. President Museveni explained that due to the highly increasing population in Uganda, renewables cannot 'deliver the base load required to boost manufacturing or industrialize agriculture -- crucial for Africa in the wake of the pandemic.'

"In light of the Ukraine war, the West, too, would do well to consider a policy change -- and initiatives like the Lake Albert basin oil project may form part of the answer. By investing in oil and gas deposits in friendly nations such as Uganda, Europe could decrease its reliance on hostile nations." President Museveni penned. 

President Museveni's argument is shared by many industry players on the African continent. They argue that with Africa's socioeconomic development hinging on the exploitation of the continent's oil and gas resources, this ‘hypocrisy’ by already developed countries in the West could spell a travesty for Africa.

Mr. Leoncio Amada Nze, the president of the African Energy Chamber questions 'how is it that Africa must decarbonize while Europe continues to industrialize.' He says: “We deserve to develop our oil and gas to make energy poverty history. In 2022, Africa needs to ramp up its licensing rounds, drive exploration and position itself as the primary supplier for domestic and global markets." With over 600 million people without access to electricity, Africa cannot and should not leave its oil and gas resources in the ground, he adds. 


DR Congo Entry Into EAC Good For Uganda Oil & Gas Sector

By Dr. Abel Tindao

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has joined the East Africa Community (EAC) at a critical time for Uganda and its quest to become an oil and gas producer. Uganda and partners - Tanzania, TotalEnergies, CNOOC Uganda and others – in February announced the Final Investment Decision (FID) that will see international oil companies invest about $15bn in the Albertine Graben, western Uganda.

Uganda, with 6.2bn barrels of yet to be extracted crude oil (1.7bn said to be recoverable) shares a political boundary with DRC. Already, endowed with various minerals like gold, diamond and other, DRC, according to a 2012 seismic survey, suspects to have about 3bn barrels in the blocks around the Lake Albert basin. This basin is shared by both countries.

It is important to note that while Uganda and DRC are politically friendly, the continued instability in East DRC, including harbouring Ugandan rebels is detrimental to regional peace, doing business, development and social welfare. But now that DRC has joined the EAC, there is hope that the bloc can as a group pacify that part of DRC.

Existing collaboration between Uganda & DRC

Late last year, Uganda and DRC collaborated to help Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) flush out Allied Defense Forces (ADF) rebels out of their hideouts inside DRC using what has been called Operation Shuja. The ADF, backed by terrorism groups like Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda, had bombed two separate targets in Uganda’s capital Kampala. This collaboration is an indication that more collaborations can be achieved more so if they are economic.

In December of 2021 it was reported that Uganda had started building 223km of roads in the DRC at a cost estimated to be USD330m to improve trade in the two countries.

In 2020, DRC exported $17.7M to Uganda. The main products that DRC exported to Uganda are Raw Tobacco ($4.65M), Scrap Iron ($3.73M), and Sawn Wood ($3.15M). In the last 25 years the exports of DRC to Uganda have increased at an annualized rate of 16.1%, from $421, 000 in 1995 to $17.7M in 2020.

In 2020, Uganda exported $265M to DRC. The main products that Uganda exported to DRC were Cement ($40.6M), Palm Oil ($24.2M), and Rice ($12.2M). In the last 25 years the exports of Uganda to DRC have increased at an annualized rate of 8.03%, from $38.4M in 1995 to $265M in 2020.

With these number as provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an online data visualization and distribution platform, Uganda stands to benefit from this arrange by exporting more to the DRC< a country with a population of 90 million people.

The two above collaboration show to what extent the two countries eying economic transformation can go. And now that they are endowed with rich natural resources, there is so much they can achieve if they focus on being good neighbors, promote peace, economic recovery and pan Africanism.

Untapped potential waiting

Of the entire Albertine Graben endowed with huge potential of hydrocarbons, Uganda has explored only 40 percent and will in the next 25 years when the confirmed recoverable oil is expected to be depleted, Uganda will have earned a humongous USD50bn. But that is anything to be worried about. Already Oranto Petroleum and Armour Energy have been licensed to do exploration in that area.

Also, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has sent out expression of interest for oil and gas exploration. Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) is teaming up China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC Uganda) to venture into that. This is an indication of how rich the Albertine Graben is and the prospects for Uganda continue to look good.

The DRC is already an oil producing country, positioned number 12 in Africa, depending largely on its coastal production activities in the western part of the country. But Sub Sahara’s largest country has huge untapped potential on borders of Uganda.

TotalEnergies, the oil company commandeering the development and eventual production of Uganda’s oil is said ‘to be chasing for business in DRC’ with a mission to tap into their resources. The oil company and Uganda & DRC can harmonize their interests and come up with a formula that will see the natural resources exploited and benefit the citizens.

Protecting the environment, rich biodiversity

Of course this has to be done sustainably since it is in an eco-sensitive area rich in biodiversity. You wouldn’t want to extract the hydrocarbon at the expense of the environment. That would be disastrous and irresponsible. Already, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have sounded worries that fossil fuels is putting the environment in Lake Albert basin at risk and fueling climate change.

To avert such fears, Uganda has a good National Oil Gas Policy whose mission is to create everlasting value from the resources and law regimes that are protective of not only revenues that will be accrued from the oil and gas production but also the environment. DRC can bench on what Uganda has achieved, and of course, Uganda can offer what it has learnt so far.

Tightening security & ensuring peace

In the jungles of eastern DRC, proximately next to Uganda, there over 133 rebel or militia groups funded by the illicit minerals trade. These militias are a menace and if not dealt with can curtail the proper and sustainable exploitation of these natural resources.

We have seen this happen in Nigeria’s Delta where militia bomb and set oil pipelines ablaze. Uganda and DRC need to find a domestic solution to this because, like we have seen, even with the presence of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), a UN peacekeeping force hasn’t stopped these militias from causing havoc.

Sometimes Lake Albert has seen Ugandan fishermen attacked by armed civilians or DRC soldiers and robbed clean while on the lake in Ugandan waters. This continues to happen even when the Ugandan government protested to their counterpart in Kinshasa. This cannot continue especially when exploration for oil is ongoing on the lake. Gun wielding bandits are a risk to manpower undertaking exploration. Oil companies wouldn’t want to invest and risk the lives of their workers like that.

It is therefore important that the two countries work out a solution and give investors and oil companies a guarantee that they are safe. Investor confidence is earned.

The writer is a Ugandan marine security expert.

TotalEnergies, Partners Sign Four Important Agreements To Foster Sustainable Development Of Uganda’s Oil & Gas

TotalEnergies has made clear commitments toward ensuring that its activities are conducted in line with best environmental and social practices, Philippe Groueix, the General Manager of TotalEnergies EP Uganda Wednesday said at the launch of TEPU Take Action Campaign.

The campaign aimed at showcasing the positive impact of TotalEnergies' activities in the Tilenga Project area also saw four key important agreements signed to enhance road safety, cultural heritage and biodiversity conservation in the Albertine region.

“We are committed to working with partners who are experts in implementing sustainable projects aimed at achieving positive outcomes for conservation, culture and communities,” Groueix stated further.

TotalEnergies signed an agreement with Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) for road safety initiatives in schools, Cross Cultural Foundation Uganda (CCFU) for the implementation of a cultural dialogue and heritage programme, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to support UWA law enforcement activities in the MFNP park and Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWT) to promote community, education and awareness around Budongo forest central reserve.

These agreements, Groueix said, are just the beginning of a much bigger programme of partnerships for the implementation of TotalEnergies' actions for sustainability while pursuing the production of Uganda’s oil and gas.

Barbra Babweteera Mutambi, the Executive Director (ED) of Cross Cultural Foundation Uganda (CCFU) explained that key activities to be undertaken under this program include identifying, safeguarding and promoting traditional knowledge, and facilitation of value addiction in crafts making and traditional music.

“The project aims to promote culture as a key to improving community and individual livelihood, particularly through capacity building and intercultural collaborations in artistic initiatives, crafts, and traditional music, with more focus on women, youth, and children,” she said.

This will not be the first time Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) is working with TotalEnergies in the Albertine region – the latest partnership is an extension of a relationship where both have been working in Budongo Forest using radio drama.

Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Dr Joshua Rukundo noted that TotalEnergies has developed strategies to use new cleaner ways of extracting energy.

Simon Nampindo, the Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) stated that projects like Tilenga have a long duration of over 25years and during that period WCS’s role will be to use science to conserve the environment. TotalEnergies should be able to take criticism based on science, he added.

TotalEnergies will be implementing the Road Safety and Mobility Program in schools to deal with the traffic in the Albertine region.  It is predicted traffic will double over the coming years due to increased oil and gas activities.

The program themed Road Safety at Heart prioritizes road safety sensitization and awareness in schools with specific emphasis on young children and the youths in the Albertine region. It seeks to reach 100 schools and over 38,000 students.

As TotalEnergies Profits Soar, The Rest Of Us Suffer

By Charity Migwi and Omar Elmawi

Last week TotalEnergies announced its 2021 financial results and 2022 outlook, which showed they will be making the largest profit in the history of any company in France. The announcement revealed that the oil and gas giant's profits amounted to over  $18 billion for the year 2021. In short, Total is killing it. But the question is, at whose expense?

TotalEnergies (after rebranding its name last year) has a presence in 130 countries globally, including oil and gas extraction activities, refining and chemical sites, and service stations. Of these, 30 of their chapters are in Africa.

If you pose the question: why do 90% of their investments go to oil and gas expansion with a view to increase production by 50% by 2030 with a majority of these projects located within the Global South, they will be quick to tell you their motivations are to support the Global South to develop and catch up with the rest of the developed world. But who are we kidding? We all know that companies, TotalEnergies included, are solely driven by profits, the planet be damned.

As the world rapidly divests from fossil fuels and stricter regulations are being imposed on them, especially in the developed world, it is not surprising that TotalEnergies and other Big Oil companies have identified the Global South as the new frontier for their polluting business under the guise of generating employment for scores of the population and generating revenue for these struggling economies and nations. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

In a highly publicised revelation last year, it emerged that Total knew about climate change and its impacts for more than five decades, and did nothing to solve the problems. In fact, all they have done is sponsor greenwashing campaigns and actions geared at misleading the public or hiding the impacts of climate change.

This would perhaps explain why Ugandans and Tanzanians do not see Total's involvement and the announcement of the Final Investment Decision (FID) for EACOP and associated projects as a blessing but the beginning of an economic downshift.

There are several reasons to think this. From the structure of this corporation agreement between Total Energies and the rest shows Total stands to gain the most with a 62% stake on the EACOP. One of those ways is the EACOP Bill  (https://bit.ly/3rNEkLJ) (now Act) which is skewed to benefit Total the most. The Act has many gaps and weaknesses to protect or address environmental, community land rights and climate change concerns. Total owns twice the amount of shares as the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments' in the pipeline itself, amounting to 62% (Uganda and Tanzania each own 15% shares).

EACOP is not the only African charm that TotalEnergies has set its eyes on. Once in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Total had called dibs on a large portion of the pristine ecosystem that is the Virunga National Park. After years of dissent from climate and environmental activists, Total bowed to pressure and withdrew from the region, focusing its attention elsewhere.

Whether this retreat was conditional remains to be seen. Currently, the company is planning to resume operations on a mega Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Mozambique after almost a year of suspension. Just like in Uganda and Tanzania, Total's operations have ignited flames in the province of Cabo Delgado by fuelling social tensions that have brought the nation to its knees.

When massive natural gas discoveries were made in 2009, the vision of leapfrogging to middle-income status was all too promising. More than a decade later, the people of Mozambique have nothing to delight in. Instead, unfolding massacres, displacement, and untold misery have become the norm.

The already vulnerable locals are feeling frustrated, being caught up in the manifestation of the paradox of plenty. Their resource-rich country is being plundered by political and global economic elites as they suffer violence and human rights abuses amid escalating insurgencies and security threats conveniently labelled as 'terrorism'.

Beyond the irredeemable tragedy in Cabo Delgado, the town of Palma was also attacked, bringing chaos to the doorstep of Total's operations and causing people to flee to neighbouring countries and abandoning the town. As a result, Total declared force majeure on its $20 billion project, absolving itself of its contractual obligations and commitments while maintaining the largest share of benefits as the project concessionaire despite survival being at stake.

Most recently, Total announced their intent to restart the project, barely before a return to normalcy in the region. Far be it from over, the impacts of the fossil fuel industry such as Total, in Africa goes beyond human rights violations.

Continued investments in the fossil fuel projects will exacerbate the vulnerability of communities in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar that are yet to fully recover from  the terrible cyclones Idai and Kenneth of 2019 and the recent cyclones Ana and Batsirai that left a wave of destruction, and a death toll of over 100 people.

Evidently, the so-called developmental gains promised by such industries are nothing more than the brunt of an already devastating climate catastrophe as they continue to enrich themselves at the expense of African nations.

The people of Africa do not need to be weighed against profit and economic development. The climate crisis is already unfolding in the region. Solar, wind and other green alternative sources of energy that are in abundance have the potential to fuel the continent's prosperity while putting its people, heritage and the environment at the centre of development.

Charity Migwi worksfor Africa Regional Campaigner at 350.org.
Omar Elmawi, Coordinator of the #StopEACOP Campaign

PATRICK POUYANNÉ: We Are Fully Aware Of Social & Environmental Challenges Uganda Oil Projects Present

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, has promised that the lead joint venture partner in the development and eventual production of Uganda's oil and gas resources will use the Lake Albert Development Project as an exemplary project in terms of shared prosperity and sustainable development.

The Lake Albert Development Project has come under scrutiny from Civil Society Organizations who argue that the project possess risks to the environment and the social wellbeing of host communities not only in Uganda and Tanzania but also in DR Congo.

But Pouyanné is quelling these fears saying that TotalEnergies is committed to implementing action plans that will have a net positive impact on biodiversity as part of the implementation of these projects.

“We are fully aware of the important social and environmental challenges it represents. We will pay particular attention to use local skills, to develop them through training programs, to boost the local industrial sector in order to maximize the positive local return of this project," said Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies.

He added: "With today's signing of a framework agreement on renewable energy, we are laying the foundation to implement our multi-energy strategy in Uganda and contribute to people's access to energy."

TotalEnergies maintains that this oil development is in line with TotalEnergies' strategy of only approving new projects if they are low-cost and low emissions.

In particular, the design of the facilities incorporates several measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions well below 20 kg CO2eq/boe, including the extraction of Liquefied Petroleum Gas for use in regional markets as a substitute for burning biomass, and the solarization of the EACOP pipeline.

On 1st February, 2022 TotalEnergies and the energy ministry signed a MoU for the development of renewable energy with the objectives of developing 1GW of installed capacity, promoting access to electricity and clean energy, supporting national climate change objectives through the deployment of carbon footprint reduction projects.

Earlier, that day Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, the Vice-President of Tanzania, Patrick Pouyanné, representatives of China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Uganda National Oil Company and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation announced the final investment decision for the the Lake Albert Development Project.

The Lake Albert Development Project encompasses the Tilenga and Kingfisher upstream oil projects in Uganda and the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania.

The Tilenga project, operated by TotalEnergies, and the Kingfisher project, operated by CNOOC, are expected to start producing in 2025 and to reach a cumulative plateau production of 230,000 barrels per day.

The upstream partners are TotalEnergies (56.67%), CNOOC (28.33%) and UNOC (15%).

Production from the oil fields in Uganda will be transported to the port of Tanga in Tanzania through the EACOP cross-border pipeline, whose shareholders are TotalEnergies (62%), UNOC (15%), TPDC (15%) and CNOOC (8%).

TotalEnergies says that all partners are committed to implementing these projects in an exemplary manner, taking into consideration the environmental and biodiversity stakes, as well as the rights of the concerned communities, in accordance with the stringent performance standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).  

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