Uganda official says could pick Tanzania over Kenya for oil pipeline

Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:38am EDT
 
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KAMPALA, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Uganda's government is still considering a pipeline through Tanzania to export oil if it proved cheaper than alternatives, an official said on Wednesday, even though the Ugandan president indicated last month that a route through Kenya had been picked.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta made a joint call in August to implement a pipeline project via north Kenya "without further delay", a decision seen as helping investors to decide on oilfield development in both states.

But France's Total, an investor in Uganda, raised new uncertainty about that route on Tuesday, saying it was looking at a possible Tanzanian option.

Asked whether the government was still considering the Tanzanian route as an alternative to Kenya's Lamu region, senior Ugandan energy ministry official Robert Kasande told Reuters:

"We've talked about the northern Lamu route. However, in order to ensure that we have least cost ... we're also looking at the one that terminates at Tanga in Tanzania."

"We will take the one which is cheaper and if it is the one to Tanga, we will take the one to Tanga," said Kasande, director of downstream at the ministry, speaking on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference in Kampala.

The joint presidential statement on the Lamu route in August had said Kenya would need to guarantee security, financing and cheaper fees than other routes, but it had indicated that both leaders were now committed to that option.

The Kenyan route has raised some industry concerns because it would run in a region near the border with Somalia, from where Islamist militants have launched attacks on Kenya before.

Uganda's presidential spokesman and Kenyan energy officials were not immediately available for comment.

China's CNOOC is also investing in Uganda, while Britain's Tullow Oil has a stake there and is developing Kenyan fields with partner Africa Oil.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Dale Hudson)