Ethical Problems Surrounding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline


The East African Crude Oil Pipeline has become a subject of heated debate and controversy in recent months. French fossil fuel company TotalEnergies‘ investment in the project has drawn the ire of climate activists worldwide, who argue that the pipeline will only exacerbate the global climate crisis.

Scheduled to be completed by 2025, the EACOP project aims to transport oil from Lake Albert in Uganda to the Tanzanian Port of Tanga, and from there, to international markets. If realized, it would become the longest heated oil pipeline in the world, spanning 1,444 kilometers.

Ethical Problems Surrounding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline
Ethical Problems Surrounding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

The construction of the EACOP has had severe consequences for the affected communities. Over 100,000 people have been displaced as a result, according to reports from Human Rights Watch.

The displacement has not only disrupted these communities’ livelihoods but has also resulted in food insecurity and household debt. In addition, families have been torn apart, with many children forced to drop out of school due to the upheaval caused by the project.

One of the most troubling aspects of the EACOP project is the land acquisition process. Farmers in the affected areas have been vulnerable to coercion and pressure to sign compensation agreements that they do not fully understand.

Many of these agreements are written in English, a language that most farmers cannot read or comprehend. This language barrier adds an additional layer of vulnerability to the already disadvantaged communities, further marginalizing their voices and rights.

Moreover, the EACOP pipeline route passes through land that is home to sensitive ecosystems and protected areas. This poses a serious threat to biodiversity and the delicate balance of these ecosystems.

Ethical Problems Surrounding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline
Ethical Problems Surrounding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

The destruction of these natural habitats could have far-reaching consequences for the environment and wildlife in the region. It is essential to consider the long-term implications and potential irreparable damage that may result from this project.

The timing of the EACOP project is also a significant concern. With global efforts to combat climate change and limit the worst impacts, building new fossil fuel infrastructure goes against the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Numerous international institutions and companies have publicly pledged not to support the construction of new fossil fuel projects, recognizing the urgent need to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

Despite arguments that the EACOP project could become a stranded asset as the world moves away from oil and gas, it is still proceeding. However, there is a growing global movement called #StopEACOP that is raising concerns about human rights violations and land deprivation caused by the project. These concerns have led to legal action against TotalEnergies, one of the key players involved in EACOP. In June, activists even took direct action by spray-painting TotalEnergies’ UK headquarters in London.

Although preliminary groundwork has begun on the project and compensation has been provided to most affected individuals, there are still voices of discontent. One resident who was affected by the pipeline expressed their frustration, stating that they had believed in the promises made but now find themselves landless, with depleted compensation funds and environmental issues like flooding and dust pollution.

The future of EACOP remains uncertain as opposition continues to grow. The ongoing debates surrounding its viability highlight the complex challenges facing projects in an evolving energy landscape.

The ethical problems surrounding the EACOP project speak to broader issues related to corporate accountability and responsibility. TotalEnergies’ investment in the pipeline raises questions about the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Elaine Nalikka
Elaine grew up in the DC-Metropolitan area. She went to college at Washington & Jefferson college and graduated in 2016. Since graduating she has worked in criminal law, personal injury law, government contracting, journalism and in the non-profit sector. She is originally from Kampala, Uganda and has ties to the royal family.


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