Officials from Kenya Energy and Petroleum Ministry assigned to carryout studies on the viability of Uganda Oil Pipeline export routes suffered setbacks after allegedly being denied entry into Tanzania’s Port of Tanga.
The team is part of a group that was constituted following a meeting between Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya’s Leader Uhuru Kenyatta, respective oil ministry officials and industrial players held in Nairobi. The Agenda of the meeting was to resolve the indecision and deadlock surrounding Uganda Oil Pipeline Project.
The officials from both countries were tasked to do feasibility studies on a least cost pipeline route, construction technicalities, approving the Oil reserves to determine the pipeline size, and the viability of ports; Tanga in Tanzania, Mombasa and Lamu in Kenya.
However, Kenyan officials led by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, said their travel documents were confiscated by Tanzanian authorities as they tried to access the port of Tanga.
Its alleged that Tanzania only granted access to Ugandan technical team led by Uganda Energy Minister Irene Muloni.
Kenya Petroleum Principle Secretary Andrew Kamau who was part of the delegation confirmed that the passports of his team were confiscated upon arrival in Tanga. The port is the proposed potential exit point for Uganda’s crude oil.
“We are basically captives here. They have refused to give us back our passports for about one hour. They have also refused us entry into the port of Tanga,” Kamau told the media.
“They only allowed the Uganda delegation into the port,” he added.
Tanzania has neither denied nor accepted the incident. However, reports indicate that Tanzania Officials accused kenya technocrats during arrest that they would not permit their entry to the port in relation to the fact that their nation was Ignored in the Nairobi meeting
Speaking to the Media in Nairobi, the spokesman of Kenya Presidency, Manoah Esipisu said Tanzanian was not involved in an earlier oil pipeline negotiations between with because the issues discussed were exclusive for the two countries.
“Monday meeting was bilateral. As you know we had also invited oil companies but they did not participate in the bilateral meeting,” he told journalists.
Tanzania as a regional partner and also a budding gas producer ought to have been a stakeholder in oil related negotiations between Uganda and Kenya. A diplomatic row simmers between Tanzania and Kenya over the Oil Pipeline deal
The nation discovered an additional 2.17 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of possible natural gas deposits, raising the east total estimated recoverable natural gas reserves to more than 57 tcf, in February 2016.
The talks between Uganda and Kenya over a crude Export pipeline closed without bearing fruit as indecision on the viable port to export crude still hovers over Uganda.
In August 2015, both nations announced signature of a memorandum of understanding to commence construction of 1400km Pipeline from Uganda’s Oil-rich Albertine graben to Lokichar basin to Port Lamu. Uganda changed mind and announced it has commenced studies with Tanzania to construct a joint pipeline to Port Tanga.
Tanzania is already enlightened with the move which it says will employ over 15000 of its nationals.
Oil companies carrying out exploration in Uganda had warned that Uganda’s plans to start extracting crude oil for export in 2018 could be delayed if it goes ahead with the Kenya deal. The firms are Total, Tullow Oil plc and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC).
However, Tullow Oil plc has since denied having a hand in the study.
“Tullow has publicly expressed its view that whereas both the Northern and Southern routes through Kenya are technically viable, its own analysis of the different pipeline routings shows that the northern route is the most cost-effective for both Kenyan and Ugandan crude oil,” it said in a statement.