CourtNews

French court sides with Uganda, Tanzania in their controversial oil case

It has ruled against the lawsuit filed against TotalEnergies and the oil project it has initiated with Uganda and Tanzania.

WEDNESDAY March 1, 2023

Construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in progress. PHOTO | AFRICA BUSINESS INSIDER

By CHINEDU OKAFOR

Africa Business Insider

An appeal regarding the contentious oil projects in Tanzania and Uganda by the energy corporation TotalEnergies was dismissed by a French court on Tuesday.

In the two projects, the Tilenga Oil Development and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, six French and Ugandan activist organisations accuse the French firm of not doing all possible to safeguard people and the environment.

TotalEnergies’ central processing facility under construction in Buliisa, Uganda, on February 20, 2023. A French court on February 28, 2023, dismissed a lawsuit against oil company TotalEnergies over its controversial oil projects in Uganda and Tanzania. PHOTO | BADRU KATUMBA | AFP

Both TotalEnergies and the plaintiff organisations were silent as of press time. In a groundbreaking lawsuit based on a 2017 French law that holds large corporations accountable for environmental and human rights dangers, the activists requested that the court compel TotalEnergies to suspend the east African projects.

The court, however, denied the motion, stating that only a judge who carefully considered the issue could determine if the allegations against TotalEnergies were true and then move on to an audit of actual activities.

Since last year, the Ugandan oil case has been a massive bone of contention. While Uganda and Tanzania have partnered to build a cross-border pipeline, numerous environmentalist groups both local and international outfits and individuals.

Activists demonstrate against East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Kampala, Uganda, on February 22, 2023. PHOTO | THE EAST FRICAN

Earlier this year, Uganda and Tanzania approved the construction of a $3.5 billion oil pipeline that will transport the country’s crude to international markets. This approval follows the application made by a company controlled by France’s TotalEnergies, (TTEF.PA). The estimated reserve gross stands at 6 billion barrels while recoverable oil stands at 1.4 billion barrels.

Following the approval, both countries including TotalEnergies began to receive more heat from international communities than they had, prior. Climate activists criticised the project which is scheduled to run 1,443 km from Lake Albert in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga, claiming that it poses a threat to evict thousands of people and damages vital ecosystems in the two East African nations.

As a result, demonstrations took place in Kampala, London, Paris, and New York, the Eacop demonstrations also took place in 18 other cities, including Tokyo, Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Brussels, Sendai, Hoima, Nagoya, Toronto, Fukuoka, Goma, Cape Town, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and VancouverΩ

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