Uganda sits on vast oil resources, and three companies are ready to drill – in of all places, Murchison Falls National Park. A Chinese construction company is already expanding a road that cuts through the protected area.
Speak out against this disaster in the making!
Murchison Falls National Park is one of Africa’s jewels. Every year, thousands of nature lovers come from all over the world to enjoy the spectacle of the Victoria Nile thundering down the cliffs of a narrow gorge.
The Albertine Graben region is home to wildlife such as lions, elephants and hippos, and at least 500 further animal species. It is listed as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and a Ramsar site because of its exceptional wetlands.
This could soon be history if France’s TOTAL, UK-based Tullow Oil and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) were to drill 419 wells in the region and extract 200,000 barrels a day. They would also build a refinery, an industrial zone and a 1,445-kilometer pipeline-the longest in the world-to the harbor of Tanga in Tanzania.
Tullow confirmed the commercial viability of the oil blocks in 2006 but a final investment decision has been delayed multiple times.
In early 2019, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) started expanding a dirt track through Murchison Falls National Park used mainly by safari tourists, widening and paving it for heavy vehicles. The road expansion will fragment the national park and cut off wildlife corridors. Environmental activists are convinced that the only possible purpose for the road is to serve the oil industry.
CCCC is one of the biggest construction companies globally. Its projects are textbook examples of how China initiates, finances and realizes major undertakings that run roughshod over the local environment in numerous countries.
Resistance is growing in Uganda: environmentalists and civil society are calling on the government to protect the environment and the livelihoods of ordinary Ugandans from the fossil-fuel industry.
International pressure can be successful, as the cancelation of a hydroelectric dam project close to Murchison Falls has shown. Now our aim is clear: Save the Murchison Falls region – tell Uganda to keep the oil in the ground!
Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and covers an area of 3,878 square kilometers. Scientists have counted 144 mammal, 51 reptile and 755 plant species in the region’s savanna ecosystems, which also includes the Budongo, Bugoma and Wambabya protected areas.
Oil in Murchison Falls National Park – the companies involved
The oil reserves are estimated at 6.5 billion barrels. Between 2011 and 2012, TOTAL and CNOOC each acquired a 33-percent share from the stakeholder, UK-based Tullow Oil.
A number of nature conservation and human rights organizations are already fighting against TOTAL, complaining of land grabbing, the loss of the livelihood of many local people and impoverishment. Les Amis de la Terre France and others are filing a lawsuit against the oil company in Paris, referring to a law on corporate responsibility that also applies to foreign subsidiaries.
Tullow Oil, based in London, which bills itself as “Africa’s leading independent oil company”, is active in 15 countries in Africa, South America and off Jamaica. Its main business activity is the exploration of new oil and gas fields on land and offshore.
China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is the third largest oil company in the People’s Republic of China. It mainly operates in Africa, Iran and more recently in Europe and North America. The company is 70 percent state-owned.
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is one of the largest construction groups in the world. In Uganda, it built the 40-kilometer expressway between Entebbe Airport and the capital city, Kampala.
The Export Import Bank of China is involved in the destruction of the Murchison Falls National Park as a financier. The cost for the construction of three “national oil roads” has been estimated at around €485 million, of which 85 percent (€410 million) will be covered by a loan. In addition to CCCC, two other Chinese companies are involved.
According to environmentalists, the start of construction by CCCC is illegal. For example, it is unclear whether an environmental impact assessment has been carried out. During two public hearings on the Tilenga project, it became apparent that numerous regulations had been violated.
Protected areas without protection
In many countries, governments are opening protected areas to resource exploitation, dams and infrastructure projects: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Virunga and Salonga National Parks are threatened by oil drilling, while the Canadian company Banro wants to mine gold in Itombwe Nature Reserve.
In Guinea, the Chinese Sinohydro Group is planning a dam in the new Moyen-Bafing National Park; in Tanzania, the Unesco World Heritage site Selous is also threatened by a dam.
Roads open “Pandora’s box”
Environmentalists compare the construction of roads to opening a Pandora’s box of environmental evils and draw parallels to the spread of cancer cells. Satellite images show how, after a road is opened between population centers, numerous side roads soon branch off into the countryside in a herringbone pattern. These are both official and unofficial roads, some of which are built by logging companies.
Roads open previously inaccessible areas to agriculture (farms, plantations, cattle feedlots), logging, mining, poaching and settlement. Many of the threats to rainforests are associated with the construction of roads. In the tropics, 95 percent of all deforestation takes place within five kilometers of the nearest road.
Please sign and share: https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/petitions/1200/uganda-keep-the-oil-in-the-ground-save-murchison-falls#more
My comment: it prevails a gold rush atmosphere!
Uganda already confirmed the existence of huge commercially usable oil reserves around Lake Albert along the western border in 2006.
Tullow Oil, listed on the British stock exchange in France, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation jointly control three oil blocks in Lake Albert, a huge stretch of water on the Ugandan border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
That would be enough to make Uganda an important player in the African oil industry. At least that is the hope of the Ugandan government wich says: “The discussions on ton the various issues are ongoing and we hope to reach an agreement very soon.”
But 13 years after the first discoveries were made, Total said it was stopping technical work on the oilfield and pipeline project following the collapse of a deal to buy additional equity from Tullow and the failure of talks with the Ugandan government to agree legal terms for the investment.
Now the pressure of the public has to be intensified so that this project, which has been postponed several times, does not arise.
Because from our experience in exploiting this continent by white collar criminals from abroad, we know, that the “man on the street” in Uganda – as happened in Nigeria and Angola – will be exploited and bled.
Nature and animals included.
My best regards to all, Venus