The coronavirus crisis is driving down demand for oil and therefore its price. A context which can only delay the start of the costly exploitation of the hydrocarbons of Lake Albert.
Oil windfall is slow to spill into Uganda. Fifteen years after the discovery of a major deposit under the waters of Lake Albert, not a single drop has yet been exploited. There would however be a reserve of more than a billion and a half barrels. The fourth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gloria Sebikari, spokesman for the Ugandan petroleum authorities, said “from a technical point of view, the projects are ready. Trade negotiations are still ongoing. But we are optimistic. “ Repeatedly postponed, the start of work planned for 2020 is postponed for at least three years.
The Tilanga project is, it must be said, titanic: 419 wells, 34 offshore platforms for production up to 220 000 barrels days. There is also and above all the construction of a giant oil pipeline of almost 1 500 km through Uganda, then Tanzania to reach the Indian Ocean. The longest in the world to transport heated crude oil.
Suffice to say that the current context of falling crude prices is not very favorable. According to a study by Rystad Energie, cited by Africa grandstand, demand for black gold will continue to collapse. According to this research firm, it could drop from 12 to 16 million barrels a day for the next two months, depending on the policies pursued by the countries in the fight against the coronavirus of partial or total containment. On average over the whole of 2020, demand should contract by around 4%.
According to The gallery, with a barrel at 30 dollars, investments in offshore should fall by two thirds and by half for onshore. However, the barrel is currently at 20 dollars …
But the postponement of production in Uganda is undoubtedly not to displease the associations of defense of the environment which do not cease alerting on the dangers which this project involves. Thus, the NGO Friends of the Earth is always before the courts against Total, the main operator on the project.
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“Even the populations that will not be expropriated in the vicinity of the lake will be directly impacted by the pollution generated by the oil activity : air, soil and water pollution, inevitable in such projects “, explained Juliette Renaud of Friends of the Earth to France Info Afrique in July 2019.
More than 7 000 people have already been evicted from their land and some are still awaiting compensation, either financial or in kind. For these people, Uganda's oil adventure has a bitter taste. “Oil changed my life, because now I'm starving. Before that, I had a decent life. I even managed to earn a little money by farming, but now it's no longer possible. have nowhere to go “ , explains to AFP an evicted from his land. The dream of a job linked to petroleum development is also fading.