Total’s latest African deal will position Uganda among major oil exporters

Fred Ojambo and Paul Burkhardt April 10, 2021
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne

(Bloomberg) - Total SE signed agreements along with Ugandan officials for an oil development set to transform the East African nation into a significant crude producer and exporter.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne was among those who signed deals Sunday, according to a broadcast of the ceremony attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan. The agreements faced multiple delays since the first commercial discoveries of oil were made 15 years ago. China’s biggest offshore oil and gas producer, Cnooc Ltd., and Uganda National Oil Co. are also partners who participated.

Uganda National Oil Co. said late on Thursday that it expected a final investment decision related to the pipeline to be announced on Sunday.

Pouyanne called the signing of pacts a historic milestone for the production work and export pipeline that will draw more than $10 billion of investment. “It’s a very large development, one of the largest that will be developed on this continent,” though just the beginning of a process that will see oil flow in early 2025, he said.

Total’s own $5.1 billion bet on the project is for the rare frontier oil development that’s moving forward as most major companies are cutting spending. It also cements the French energy giant’s position as the leading player in Africa.

The partners will develop the Tilenga and Kingfisher discoveries near Lake Albert, as well as a 1,443-kilometer (897-mile) heated pipeline to transport Uganda’s waxy crude for export at the port of Tanga in Tanzania. The French explorer holds 57% of the oil field licenses and a large stake in the pipeline project.

Total expects production to reach a plateau of 230,000 barrels per day. That’s higher than the output of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, two of Africa’s OPEC members, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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