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

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

A French court ruled on Tuesday 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.

The case was brought by six French and Ugandan activist groups in 2018, accusing the French company of not doing all it could to protect people and the local environment during the development of the Tilenga oil project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

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.

The court ruled the case "inadmissible", saying the plaintiffs did not correctly follow court procedures against the French energy giant.

Construction is to start this year on the 897-mile (1,443-kilometre) East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline planned by TotalEnergies and CNOOC that will run between Uganda and the Indian Ocean port of Tanga in Tanzania. Authorities have described it as the world’s longest heated oil pipeline.

Uganda is estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of at least 1.4 billion barrels.

That ecological fragility is one reason why some activists oppose the project despite assurances from TotalEnergies that the pipeline’s state-of-the-art-design will ensure safety for decades.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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