Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian Energy minister Merdard Kalemani said on Friday December 7 that the government is putting national interests first in the ongoing talks on the construction of the Uganda-Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline (UTCOP).
“We must make sure that the country benefits from the project. To start with, we will identify, empower and bring on board local companies to provide services during the construction of the pipeline…,’’ Dr Kalemani told reporters shortly after energy ministers from Uganda and Tanzania held talks in Dar es Salaam on the UTCOP project.
“[As a country], we want to ensure that the economic benefits from the oil pipeline project contribute to our economic growth,’’ Dr Kalemani further noted, revealing further that ministers would meet again in January 2019.
The oil pipeline will start in Buseruka sub-county, Hoima District, in Uganda's Western Region.
It will travel in a general south-easterly direction to pass through Masaka in Uganda, Bukoba in Tanzania, and then loop around the southern shores of Lake Victoria. It will then continue through Shinyanga and Siginda regions in Tanzania and end up in Tanga, a distance of approximately 1,410 kilometres.
“What’s being done so far is that we are digging the trenches in Manyara, Tanga and Kondoa in Dodoma in preparation for the laying of the oil pipeline,’’ said Dr Kaleman.
During the coming meeting which is expected to be held in Uganda, the ministers are expected to deliberate further on the project. Next year’s talks may lead up to the signing of the Host Government Agreement and that would also mark the beginning of the oil pipeline construction.
The agreement is expected to streamline how the Uganda and Tanzania will share the benefits of the project and how to resolve any disputes that may arise during the implementation.
The Dar es Salaam meeting is the third in a series of meetings being held by ministers to kick-start development of the project that is intended to transport crude oil from Uganda's oil fields to the Port of Tanga, Tanzania on the Indian Ocean.