Uganda – Tanzania: Who’s Who in EACOP’s management and finance

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: EACOP: A boon or curse for East Africa?

By David Soler, Soraya Aybar, Pablo Garrigós
Posted on Monday, 5 December 2022 15:31

Photo by TAR

With French oil company Total Energies as the main shareholder, companies and banks from as many as 10 foreign countries are involved in the oil projects in Uganda and Tanzania.

This is part 5 of a 7-part series

The 1.443km East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will be located between Hoima in Uganda and Tanga in Tanzania, but its headquarters are located in the luxurious district of Canary Wharf in London, from where a group of French officers leads the business together with Chinese counterparts.

Whilst project developers and the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments emphasise the huge global impact that EACOP will have for locals, the reality is that aside from national oil entities, the project is entirely run by foreign companies involved in the construction, maintenance and development of both the main pipeline and sideline oil activities.

TotalEnergies

Since it bought Tullow Oil’s 33% remaining stake, the main player in the oil business in Uganda and Tanzania is the French company Total Energies.

The oil firm is the main shareholder with 62% of shares in East African Crude Oil Pipeline Ltd. and 56.67% in both the Tilenga and Kingfisher oil sites, acting as the main operator in the former.

The positions of highest responsibility both in the legal and operational structure are all held by Total Energies.

At the EACOP Ltd company registered in London, there are 12 directors appointed, two of which represent Total’s largest stake: Philippe Groueix and Jean Gavalda.

At the centre of all of them is Total Energies’ CEO, Patrick Pouyanné. Despite having no assigned role in EACOP’s legal or operational structure, he has been actively engaged in the project.

Pouyanné was summoned by the European Parliament’s Human Rights Commission over human rights violations, to which he answered in a written paper. There will be a December 7 trial in France against Total Energies for the EACOP project.

Groueix is one of the main faces of the French company in Uganda, where he is the country chair and has been the General Manager since September 2021.

He is on the ground supervising as shown in his visit in early November to the Kingfisher oil site and is also the main face representing Total Energies at meetings such as the Oil and Gas Symposium held in October at Makerere University.

Gavalda is the second French representative with legal responsibility over EACOP. He has been working for Total Energies for 20 years.

Since August 2021 he has been the Business Development and Corporate Affairs Director in Uganda, where he ensures the good image of the company, with projects such as financing with 100.000 dollars the construction of 1 million trees or sponsoring the Ugandan Rugby Team with 15.000 dollars.

On the operational side, Martin Tiffen is the Management Director of the EACOP project. Having worked for more than three decades in the oil industry, he is responsible for ensuring the construction and operation of the pipeline operate well.

One step below him is Emmanuel Blarez, named Project Director and responsible for the commissioning and all associated projects. He has experience in Africa as a deputy in the Moho Nord deep offshore oil project in the Republic of Congo.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is the other foreign company with participation in EACOP with 8% of shares as well as the principal operator and second biggest owner at the Kingfisher oil field with 28.33% of its shares.

Chen Zhuobiao is its main figure: he is part of the board of presidents for EACOP Ltd and at the same time, the president of CNOOC Uganda, which in November 2021 announced its decision to develop Uganda’s Kingfisher oil wells.

Chen works on the operational side, as shown last month when he received 31 caterpillar trucks with structure and equipment for the site, and is also one of the three Chinese legal representatives along with Hu Weijie and Song Yuping.

Weijie is the Vice President of CNOOC Uganda and was part of the signing ceremony of the contract for the Kingfisher Oilfield Project.

At EACOP’s leadership is also Pan Xiaodong, a Chinese national who is the Construction Director of the pipeline project but has no apparent relation with CNOOC.

Uganda National Oil Company Limited

The Uganda National Oil Company Limited (UNOC) holds 15% of the shares at EACOP and manages two of its side projects: the Kabaale Refinery and the 211km pipeline planned to transport the 60,000 barrels per day refined towards Buloba, in the outskirts of Kampala.

Michael Nkambo Mugerwa has been UNOC’s General Manager since 2017. A chemical engineer, he has over three decades of experience in oil refining, gas and mineral processing projects.

The leadership team of EACOP also has Gilbert Kamuntu, Chief Commercial Officer of the national oil company since 2019 and Emmanuel Mugagga, Chief Financial Officer of UNOC. Kamuntu and Mugagga both worked previously for Shell and Tullow Oil before starting in the Ugandan national oil company.

Proscovia Nabbanja, Chief Executive Officer of UNOC is named as director in the legal entity EACOP Ltd. In 2018, he said the national company will own 51% of the Buloba terminal, which is expected to cost around $3 to 4bn.  The Uganda Refinery Holding Company Limited (URHC), a subsidiary of UNOC, is the main manager of the Kabaale Refinery, also known as the Uganda Refinery Project.

Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation

The Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) is a 15% shareholder in the oil pipeline project. James Mataragio is the Managing Director of the national corporation and was appointed in February 2022 as part of the director board of EACOP Limited.

Mataragio, together with four others, was charged in 2018 with corruption offences over alleged irregularities in the award of a survey contract to US firm Bell Geospace.

The EACOP legal entity also includes as part of the 12 directors Michael Mjinja as Commissioner for Petrol and Gas in the Ministry of Energy and Safiel Fahamuel Minvu as Monitoring and Evaluation Manager.

On the operational side, Geoffrey Mponda is the Human Resources & Corporate Affairs Director for the Tanzanian part of the project, whilst Zaria Nahoza, Internal Auditor in TPDC, is EACOP’s Planning and Performance Director.

Financial Insitutions

On 1 February, the four shareholders announced a Final Investment Decision on all the Lake Albert oil developments for $10bn.

Of those, the main pipeline’s cost was planned to be $3.5bn, but the price has risen to $5bn. The financing of EACOP comes in a 60/40% debt-to-equity ratio.

However, developers are having trouble securing funding as climate campaigners have pressured banks, arguing financing EACOP would breach the International Finance Corporation’s environmental standards and the Equator Principles.

As of November 2022, only three banks have publicly sided with EACOP as financial advisors: Standard Bank from South Africa, SMBC from Japan and ICBC from China. In October and November, the project attracted 300m in financing from the Islamic Development Bank and Afrexim Bank, but stills requires further financing to meet the 60% needed from lenders for the pipeline.

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