French court dismisses NGOs’ case against controversial TotalEnergies projects in east Africa

A French court ruled recently rejected a landmark lawsuit against oil giant TotalEnergies that accused it of failing to protect people and the environment as it pursues oil projects in Uganda and Tanzania. The world’s longest heated oil pipeline will pass through forest reserves and game parks before running alongside Lake Victoria, a source of fresh water for 40 million people.  A North Africa Post news item discusses latest developments.

 

Uganda set to begin oil drilling after French court dismisses case against TotalEnergies

A French court has dismissed a landmark lawsuit against controversial TotalEnergies projects in east Africa, which was filed by six French and Ugandan activist groups in 2018, using a 2017 law on multinationals operating outside France.

This was the first time that NGOs tried to halt an oil project through a Paris courthouse. As Uganda looks to drill its first of more than 400 oil wells and build a 1,400-kilometer pipeline, part of the massive Tilenga project in Uganda, critics have said the government and its French and Chinese partners are damaging the environment and impeding wildlife migration.

The court’s ruling rejected the case against oil giant TotalEnergies that was accused of failing to protect people and the environment as it pursues oil projects in Uganda and Tanzania. The world’s longest heated oil pipeline will pass through forest reserves and game parks before running alongside Lake Victoria, a source of fresh water for 40 million people.

The NGOs argued the pipeline project failed to adhere to the “Duty of Vigilance Act,” a 2017 French law that compels larger companies to avoid grave harm to human rights, health, safety and the environment. But the court ruled the case “inadmissible,” saying the plaintiffs did not correctly follow court procedures against the French energy giant.

Some oil wells are to be drilled within western Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park and the pipeline would then pass through seven forest reserves and two game parks, running alongside Lake Victoria, a source of fresh water for 40 million people. Ugandan government sees the oil drilling project and the pipeline as key to economic development, saying oil wealth could help lift millions out of poverty. Some even see the international condemnation of the pipeline as an assault on the country’s sovereignty.

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