Energy Minister Nankabirwa says govt to forcefully acquire Tilenga oil fields land as communities reject compensation

The Tilenga oil fields development project is located in the Lake Albert region of Uganda. The final investment decision on the onshore

The Tilenga oil fields development project is located in the Lake Albert region of Uganda.

KAMPALA — The government has issued a one-month ultimatum to Project Affected Persons-PAPs under the Tilenga project to receive compensation or forcefully lose their land.

Up to 623 people in Kasenyi village were affected when the government acquired 320 hectares of land in Kasenyi village in Ngwedu sub-county to pave the way for the construction of the Tilenga central processing facility-CPF. The facility will be used to process crude oil produced from Buliisa and Nwoya districts to extract water, gas, and other impurities, before being piped to the refinery in Kabaale, Hoima District.

In addition to the CPF that will process 190,000 barrels of oil and 700,000 barrels of total liquid per day, the Tilenga project needs land for 426 well pads; 160 kilometers of flow lines which will transport crude oil and water from the wells to the CPF among others.

However, some of the PAPs have up to date rejected compensation from the government protesting the low compensation rate for their land and other properties.

Some of the PAPs have been compelled to drag the government to court. The PAPs also resisted government attempts to settle them in areas with worse or no social services.

Some of the PAPs were offered between 3.5 and 5 million Shillings per acre of land in 2017 while others demanded between 10 to 20 million Shillings per acre of land.

Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development issued the one-month ultimatum on Monday while officiating at the handover ceremony of 105 houses constructed for some of the PAPs at Kirama village in Kigwera Sub County, Buliisa District.

She warned that government has no other option but to forcefully take over the land should the PAPs reject the compensation money.

According to Nankabirwa, the government will not tolerate any delays in the progress of the oil and gas sector beyond July 31, cautioning all PAPs who have rejected compensation money due to various factors to cooperate with the government and accept to be compensated as per the compensation rate adopted by the chief government valuer.

She says beyond July 31, the government will forcefully access and establish oil-related projects on all the pieces of land acquired for oil developments in Buliisa and the entire Bunyoro sub-region. She says government will deposit the money for the PAPs who have rejected the compensation with courts of law and take over the land forcefully.

Nankabirwa said the PAPs can drag the government to court but it will not allow any frustration in the oil and gas developments.

She said that for the case of Tilenga, the government has failed to trace six project-affected persons while 27 other PAPs are embroiled in family wrangles on who exactly should get the compensation money.

Phillipe Groueix, the General Manager TotalEnergies EP Uganda said that the housing project is an important symbol of the commitment to undertake the Tilenga development project while observing the utmost human rights standards.

He says Total E&P is taking all the necessary initiatives to ensure that they adequately restore and improve the living standards of the PAPs.

Groueix said that the construction and handover of the 105 houses to the Tilenga PAPs marks a new beginning for the PAPs under Resettlement Action Plans-RAPs 2 to 5 who accepted to be relocated to enable the developments and progress of Uganda’s oil and gas industry.

Groueix added that TotalEnergies EP Uganda will support and contribute towards the social economic development of the host communities living in the vicinity of their activities especially those who have been affected by the Tilenga project.

Fred Lukumu, the Buliisa LCV Chairperson said that there is a need to establish a vocational skilling institute to enable the youths and other people to acquire the requisite skills and knowledge in order to be employed in the oil and gas sector.

He says several youths in the district are not employed in the crucial oil and gas industry because they lack skills.

Norah Bigirwa, the Buliisa Woman Member of Parliament asked the government to take the initiative of empowering and preparing women in the district and the entire Bunyoro sub-region to supply the oil industry.

The houses that were handed over to the Tilenga PAPs were constructed in accordance with what the PAPs had in their former places of residence.

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