Total E & P general manager in Uganda, Pierre Jessua. PHOTO | COURTESY Halima Abdallah spoke with Total’s General Manager Pierre Jessua, about the woes facing Uganda’s oil project whose joint venture partners Kampala has accused of blackmail.
Total suspended all technical operations on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline days after Tullow Oil Uganda announced in August it had terminated a sale agreement to trade 21.6 per cent of its shares to joint venture partners [Total and China National Offshore Oil Company]. What are you currently working on?
We have resumed the development of engineering design of the upstream activities. We have also been working extensively on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline since we selected the Tanzania route.
We have completed the engineering, land surveys and developed a register to identify land owners. We have called for tenders on the upstream and mid-stream activities.
Total has been meeting all the expenditures for EACOP activities alone, but we do not currently have the legal and contractual framework for the project to progress further.
For example, we need to purchase the land for the pipeline company but we cannot do so because we do not have a corporation of shareholders properly registered to conduct such activities.
We have been at the frontline, but we can no longer progress. We have not yet reached all agreements with authorities regarding the pipeline and we have not finalised agreements for the upstream, so we cannot keep technical teams idle. We decided to suspend technical activities because we must be disciplined regarding our expenditures.
This sounds like you are about to abandon the project…
No, it does not mean that we are leaving the country or stopping the project. We just have to be very careful in managing our shareholders’ funds. The contractual business and legal activities are still progressing, but we have suspended technical activities.
What are the possibilities we are looking at? It is premature to say anything with certainty. The Tullow deal is terminated meaning we are back into a shareholder configuration where each of us owns 33.3 per cent. We need to sit together first as partners and discuss next steps before we speculate because anything can happen. Are you blackmailing government? We are not blackmailing anyone. Total company values in conducting business do not allow the creation of any kind of pressure or confrontation.We are a responsible private company minding how we […]