Mega-projects in Uganda and Tanzania: TotalEnergies on trial in France

The French group was summoned on Wednesday before the Paris court by six NGOs who accuse it of failing in its “duty of care” on an oil megaproject in Uganda and Tanzania.
Friends of the Earth, Survie and four Ugandan NGOs accuse TotalEnergies of conducting this project in disregard of human rights and the environment and urge the group to comply with a law passed in 2017, which imposes on multinationals a “duty of care” on their activities around the world.
This legislation requires them to “prevent serious violations of human rights, health and safety of people and the environment” at their foreign subcontractors and suppliers through a “vigilance plan” that must map the risks and establish measures to prevent them. This hearing is the first on the merits before the courts since the 2017 vote.
In the case of TotalEnergies, the six NGOs have in their sights two colossal projects: “Tilenga”, a drilling of 419 wells in Uganda partly located in a natural park, and the EACOP project (East African Crude Oil Pipeline), the longest heated pipeline in the world, intended to transport hydrocarbons to the Indian Ocean by crossing Tanzania on 1,445 km.
The active phase of the work began in February and oil production in Uganda, an authoritarian country in southern Africa, should begin in 2025 despite the condemnation of the project by the European Parliament, four UN special rapporteurs and many political leaders and associations.
The lawyer of the associations, Louis Cofflard, regretted that TotalEnergies did not take advantage of the three years of procedure to “commit and comply with its obligations”, regretting a “form of cynicism” in the oil and gas group.
Opposite, the lawyer of TotalEnergies, Antonin Lévy, assured that he would prefer to focus on the “inadmissibility” of the claims. The NGOs want to put “TotalEnergies, Tilenga and EACOP, Tanzania, Uganda and their leaders on trial,” he said. The decision has been reserved until February 28.