TotalEnergies announces land review in controversial Africa projectsThu, 04 Jan 2024 09:11:36 GMT

French energy giant TotalEnergies on Thursday said it had launched a land acquisition assessment for controversial $10-billion projects in Uganda and Tanzania slammed by environmentalists.”This mission will evaluate the land acquisition procedures implemented, the conditions for consultation, compensation and relocation of the populations concerned, and the grievance handling mechanism,” the statement said, adding that it would submit its report by April.TotalEnergies is pushing ahead with its Tilenga drilling project in Uganda and 1,443-kilometre (900-mile) East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) to the coast in Tanzania in the face of opposition from activists and environmentalists.Tilenga targets oil under the rich Murchison Falls nature reserve in western Uganda with a planned 419 wells, triggering fears among opponents of the projects for the region’s fragile ecosystem and the people who live there.TotalEnergies, which is working with Chinese oil company CNOOC on the plans, says on its website that going ahead would mean “relocating 775 primary residences, and will affect a total of 18,800 stakeholders, landowners and land users”.But Human Rights Watch called in July for the plans to be halted, saying in a report that it had already “devastated thousands of people’s livelihoods in Uganda”.The oilfield would “ultimately displace over 100,000 people,” it charged.Four environmental groups have filed a criminal complaint on climate grounds against TotalEnergies in France.TotalEnergies said Thursday it had named Benin’s former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou to lead its land acquisition assessment, calling him a “recognised expert in African economic development”.Zinsou has worked with TotalEnergies in the past through his consulting company.