China takes Uganda’s side against EU in oil pipeline dispute

By Cobus van Staden
Posted on Friday, 7 October 2022 07:39

Ugandan President Yoweri Museven
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has dismissed concerns about human rights and environmental damage expressed by the European Parliament relating to the new East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). BADRU KATUMBA / AFP

China has sided with the Ugandan government in condemning the European Parliament’s September call to pause the building of a 1,443-kilometer oil pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania.

Zhang Lizhong, China’s ambassador to Uganda, said the EU “should not use the excuse of environmental and human rights issues to block development” of the oilfields and the US$5 billion pipeline.

The European Parliament reacted to activists’ concerns that the pipeline will destroy ecosystems and displace an estimated 100,000 people from ancestral lands along Lake Victoria.

However, this position is complicated by the fact that the project is being led by the French oil major Total, which holds a 56.67% stake in developing Uganda’s oilfields. China’s CNOOC controls 28.33% and the Ugandan government 15%.

Despite the EU Parliament’s opposition, European demand for hydrocarbons in the wake of the Ukraine crisis is arguably a major driver of Africa’s current oil pipeline boom.

Different Views of Uganda’s Hoima-Tanga Oil Pipeline:

  • Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni: “We should remember that TotalEnergies convinced me about the pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with.”
  • Opposition Politician Bobi Wine: “As we speak now, there are gross human rights violations that are going on […] It’s important that we look into that. If Gen. Museveni [got] a nod [for the pipeline] without questioning human rights violations, then it would be an endorsement that human rights violations are actually policy here in Uganda.”
  • China’s Ambassador to Uganda Zhang Lizhong: “We hope that these projects will continue without disruptions and be completed in time so that it would achieve the desired results for national economic and social development for Uganda […] And this project is also significant for China-Uganda relations.”

In partnership with The China Global South Project

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