Tanzania: TotalEnergies Pipeline Project Questioned By NGOs For Human Rights Violations | Land Portal
Author(s): 
David Sadler
Language of the news reported: 
English

The scenery changes, the story remains the same: in Tanzania, the construction of the pipeline intended to evacuate the oil extracted by TotalEnergies on the shores of Lake Albert, in Uganda, baptized East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop), also accompanies large-scale human rights violations, according to the investigation made public on Wednesday October 5 by Les Amis de la Terre and Survie, the two NGOs behind, with four Ugandan associations, the lawsuit brought against the French major for non-compliance with the law on the duty of vigilance of large companies with regard to their subsidiaries and subcontractors. This action initiated in 2019 is the first of its kind since the adoption of the law in 2017.

Until now, the NGOs had turned the spotlight on the Ugandan part of the project, where the production site Tilenga is located, with its 400 boreholes, including 132 in the Murchison Falls National Park, the crude processing plants and only 300 of Eacop’s 1,445 km. Most of the world’s largest heated pipeline – work on which has not yet started – will indeed cross Tanzania before reaching the port of Tanga, on the Indian Ocean, where a storage terminal is also to be built. . Eacop is 62% owned by TotalEnergies, 15% each by the Ugandan and Tanzanian public oil companies and 8% by the Chinese company Cnooc, responsible for a minor production site in the southern part of Lake Albert.

 

“In Uganda as in Tanzania, the practices are identical. The populations were neither informed nor consulted as they should have been. The compensation offered to them for their lands are undervalued and four years after the first buyout contracts, these have, in many cases, not been paid”, deplores

Thomas Bart, the author of the report based on an investigation carried out along the Eacop route in January and February 2022. The testimonies of more than 70 people were collected while preserving their anonymity, for fear of reprisals governmental. On several occasions before having to cut short his mission, Mr. Bart was himself prevented by the local authorities from communicating with the communities concerned by this 10 billion dollar project and which encroaches, on the Tanzanian side, on the lands of 62 000 people in 231 villages.

“They did not ask us if we were in agreement”

“I saw them doing an assessment of my land. That’s how I found out I was affected.”says a man from the Manyara region, quoted in the report: “It was not at a meeting but on my farm. They took pictures of my wife and me. I had no choice but they told me that I would be compensated. » Another recounts a similar scene: ” They [les employés d’Eacop] told us that our land would be affected by the project and that they would give us money. But they didn’t ask us if we were okay. » However, TotalEnergies claims to apply the highest standards in the treatment of people displaced by major infrastructure projects. Among them, those of the International Finance Corporation (IFC, subsidiary of the World Bank), which take as their first standard to obtain a “free, prior and informed consent”.

The way the acquired land was valued is also problematic, according to the NGO investigation. The amounts offered as compensation are considered insufficient to enable the acquisition of plots of an identical surface area. Especially since land prices have increased significantly in recent years in Tanzania, according to those interviewed. Due to a lack of available land, Eacop has also rarely offered compensation in kind. In a document published in August 2022 and cited by the report, the consortium indicates that “more than two-thirds of the districts affected by the project have less than 20% of unused arable land and a number of districts have less than 5% of available land. This illustrates the challenge of identifying replacement lands along the pipeline corridor.”.

Peasants were forbidden from cultivating their land, rebuilding their houses or planting trees

As in Uganda, Tanzanian farmers were told the day after the assessment operations (carried out in 2018) that they were prohibited from cultivating their land. Just like rebuilding their houses damaged by seasonal rains or planting trees. This is to make it impossible to dispute the assessments. But while the compensation should have been paid within six months, the lack of payment led four years later to a deterioration in the living conditions of the families. Some say they suffer from “food shortages” and loss of income that led them to take their child out of school. Faced with complaints, the production of certain vegetables and cereals has, as in Uganda, been authorized again.

A carbon footprint of 34 million tonnes of CO₂ per year

The report also devotes a long chapter to the environmental impact of the pipeline, which will cross several protected areas. It recalls the risks of ecological accidents linked to the seismic nature of the area and the passage of frequent hurricanes. According to a study carried out by the firm E-Tech, specialized in the extractive industries, this reality should lead Eacop strengthen its prevention systems, in particular by increasing “blocking valves” along the pipeline to control leaks.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribersTwo mega oil projects of TotalEnergies in Uganda denounced by the European Parliament

After three years of procedural battle, the first hearing on the merits of the lawsuit initiated by Friends of the Earth and Survival against TotalEnergies on its duty of vigilance should be held on Wednesday October 12 at the Paris court. The report on the Tanzanian component of the project was added to the documents in the file. The NGOs, which are demanding that this oil project in the heart of Africa’s Great Lakes be stopped, will not fail to point out that they now have the European Parliament in their ranks. On September 15, at the initiative of French MEP Pierre Larrouturou (New Deal), he voted by a large majority for an emergency resolution to denounce its impact on populations, the environment and the climate. .

The project’s carbon footprint is 34 million tonnes of CO₂ per year, more than the emissions of Uganda and Tanzania combined. MEPs demand the cessation of drilling in protected areas, as well as the postponement of Eacop work for a year, to “study the feasibility of an alternative route” to preserve the environment and“consider other projects based on renewable energies”. MEPs also call for an end to human rights violations. The CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, invited to speak before the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament on October 10, declined the proposal.

 

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