Uganda on Wednesday announced that the signing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline deal and launch of other projects has been deferred to next month, following the death of Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli.
Before his death on March 17, President Magufuli had been scheduled to travel to Kampala for the tripartite signing of the pipeline deal, between the governments of Uganda and Tanzania, and the lead investor Total. The signing was to take place on March 22 in Kampala.
“The launch of the Tilenga Development Project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, which was planned to take place on 22nd March, 2021, has been deferred to April 2021,” said the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), in a statement dated March 24, 2021.
The signing of the deal is critical to investors taking the final investment decision for the projects, which will lead to Uganda producing its first oil in 2024.
The statement of the PAU, which regulates the oil activities in Uganda, clarifies the uncertainty that emerged after the postponement of the Eacop signing, as government officials could not give the exact date when the deal for the $3.5 billion pipeline project would be signed.
Initially, Don Wanyama, the presidential press secretary, told The EastAfrican on March 23, that no new date has been set “until after mourning and burial”.
The PAU hailed President Magufuli’s leadership, which set a strong foundation for the Eacop project, with key milestones that included the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement in 2017, and the initialling of the Tanzania Host Government Agreement in 2020.
Along with the export pipeline, Uganda is expected to launch the Tilenga Development Project, which is operated by Total in the country’s Lake Albert region. An estimated 6.5 billion barrels of oil were discovered in the area, out of which up to 1.7 billion barrels are recoverable.