The European Parliament’s criticism of oil projects in Uganda failed to “respect the fundamental principles” of democracy, TotalEnergies has said.
The company’s chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné had been due to speak to the Parliament today. Total said it would provide a letter instead. The French company will not be represented at the hearing organised by the human rights sub-commitee.
Instead, Total pointed observers to a letter it had sent to the European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
A robust response from Total became necessary after Ugandan officials came out against the resolution. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned that if Total did not pursue the development of Tilenga and the East African Oil Pipeline (EACOP), the country would find an alternative operator.
The company said the resolution contained a number of inaccuracies “based on serious and unfounded allegations. Unfortunately, it is now too late for this contradictory debate to take place as the European Parliament adopted this resolution without even hearing the company.”
The letter from Pouyanné expressed regret that the Parliament had passed the resolution. He also expressed concern that the institution had not sought any insight from Total before passing the resolution.
“It seems to me that, in this case, the adversarial principle on which the rule of law is based has not been respected in any way whatsoever,” he said. Passing the resolution contained “factual inexactitudes, and statements based on unfounded allegations, some serious, to be most damaging”.
The letter singled out the issue of displacement. The resolution had said that the oil development would see 100,000 people displaced.
Pouyanné said the project had needed to move only 5,000 people, or 723 households, into better quality housing. Some others have opted to move following compensation for farmland.
Inviting Pouyanné to talk for eight minutes to the sub-committee “does not in any way correct the situation created by this deliberation”, he said. “The adversarial principle can scarcely apply retroactively. You will understand that I do not intend to accept the invitation under these circumstances.”