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DR Congo Albertine Graben Oil to sail via East African Crude Oil Pipeline

  • It reaffirms the inevitability of EACOP as critical oil transportation channel

Ministries from Uganda and the DRC are close to reaching an agreement whereby oil produced at the DRC’s Albertine Graben blocks will be transported via the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. This was according to an email to Energy Window International, a print and online medium based in Nigeria.

The respective ministries were said to have already taken visible steps aimed at establishing a formal agreement which would see oil produced at exploration blocks in the DRC’s Albertine Graben transported via the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) – a 1,443km-long heated pipeline connecting Uganda’s Kingfisher and Tilenga oilfields with international markets via the Tanga Port in Tanzania. One of the email contents had shown that a bilateral meeting took place in Kampala a couple of days ago between Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu and the DRC’s Minister of Hydrocarbons, Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga, the main discussion which centered on the strengthening of regional relations and advancing access to regional infrastructures. The meeting also laid the foundation for a formal memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed between the countries – following the preparation of reports by technical teams of both countries – kickstarting a new era of energy security and regional trade on the back of the EACOP.

The African Energy Chamber NJ Ayuk who was at the meeting said: “The bilateral meeting held between the energy and petroleum ministries of Uganda and the DRC represents a crucial step towards lifting East Africa out of energy poverty. At the Chamber, we commend the efforts taken by the countries towards maximizing the EACOP. The pipeline offers critical opportunities, not just for Uganda and Tanzania, but for the East African region as a whole.”

The bilateral meeting and the upcoming MoU which according to the stakeholders were testimonials to the role the route would play in the region in the future have been pursued consistently and successfully notwithstanding interference by international environmental groups in the ongoing construction of the EACOP.

Representing a future major oil producer, the pipeline will enable Uganda export oil from oilfields located in the Albertine Rift Basin, located on the country’s western border, shared with the DRC, while with an MoU, the pipeline will also enable the DRC to export oil. The Albertine Graben – also known as the Lake Albert Basin – lies on the western border of Uganda and the eastern border of the DRC, adding that much of the rift area remains underexplored despite its significant potential.

Meanwhile, it had earlier on been reported that the DRC opened up about 30 oil and gas blocks for exploration in 2022, new discoveries whose successes are expected to also open up horizons as players move to replicate the same successes even as they have been seen across the border in Uganda.

It’s believed that EACOP will offer a solution to getting high-demand crude to the international markets, with enormous financial benefits which would be created from export activities, the pipeline and associated upstream buzz is also expected to open up opportunities for job creation, infrastructure development, market access and other crucial economic prospects. It will also enable East African consumers to tap into regional energy supplies, thereby tackling security across the energy-poor region, email contents had shown.

With construction currently ongoing, the EACOP is billed to commence production in 2025, with both the governments of Uganda and Tanzania expressing confident to secure the needed funding, even as international lenders are reported to have pulled out of the development, consequent upon pressure from environmental activities. It is hoped that China would step in as the primary financier, leveraging the country’s already strong presence in both the region and the pipeline’s development to see the EACOP’s completion.

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