Tanzania Joins Kenya, Uganda in Oil Pipeline Discussions
Tanzania has joined Kenya and Uganda in discussions to resolve the troubled oil pipeline project that has united and divided the three countries in recent years.
Tensions between Kenya and Tanzania peaked over the last week as it looked like one of the countries was set to lose their place in the lucrative deal. However, the two nations are now both working with Uganda to find a solution that accommodates the needs of each country.
Tanzania invited to the table
Tanzania expressed its anger over not being invited to bilateral discussions between Kenya and Uganda in Nairobi last Tuesday to address the proposed route for the pipeline project. However, Kenya has now invited Tanzania to separate talks in Nairobi on Tuesday, March 29, after fresh fact-finding missions last week.
The planning stages of the pipeline project have been a stormy affair between the three neighbouring countries. The project was initially agreed between Kenya, Uganda and French oil giant Total. However, experts later warned that security threats, the risk of delays and potentially inflated costs could make Kenya a problematic partner in the project.
Tanzania then came into the equation – as a safer alternative to Kenya – which led to the awkward tension currently present between the three neighbours.
‘Back to the drawing board’
Relations have a taken a turn for the positive this week after fresh fact-finding missions proposed an expansion upon the original plans. According to Kenyan publication, The East African, technical teams have gone “back to the drawing board to find a solution that accommodates all three countries.
The alternative plan looks set to include a gas pipeline alongside the oil pipeline route, which is yet to be agreed between Uganda and Kenya. The challenge for Kenya will be convincing investors it is a viable option for the project, amid security and cost concerns.
“Kenya is East Africa’s most terror-affected country and Total [France] is not ready to pay ransoms for its workers if they are kidnapped by Al Shaabab,” one Ugandan official, who declined to be named, has said.
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