France’s TotalEnergies has started drilling its first well in the Tilenga field, near Lake Albert, in Uganda. Production is set to start in 2025, the company said, as quoted by the AFP.
The Tilenga project is part of a $10-billion deal between TotalEnergies, Chinese CNOOC, and the Ugandan government for the development of two fields in the Lake Albert area. The other field, whose development would be led by CNOOC, is Kingfisher.
Like every new oil and gas development, the Ugandan deal has been seen as controversial by some, especially because it would also involve the construction of a pipeline from the fields to the Tanzanian Indian Ocean coast.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline, or EACOP, will have a capacity of 216,000 barrels of crude daily and will span across more than 1,400 km. It will be the world’s longest heated oil pipeline.
The capacity could be ramped up to 246,000 barrels at a later stage. The cost of the project was estimated at $3.5 billion when Total, CNOOC, and Uganda sealed the deal for its construction.
For landlocked Uganda, EACOP is a vital necessity if it is to get its crude oil to international markets. The project is a lucrative opportunity for neighboring Tanzania, too.
Environmentalists, however, disagree that the pipeline—or oil development near Lake Albert—is a good idea. They cite the potential for environmental damage from the operation of the pipeline and the fields, and the idea that more oil a d gas development is at odds with emission reduction targets.
For governments in the region, however, exploiting their natural resources is, indeed, a good idea. Politicians cite the prospects of improving the living standards of local populations thanks to oil revenues and the chance to do exactly what the West did thanks to oil and gas: wealthy.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.