OPINION: After 15 years of turmoil, it looks as though a final investment decision is at hand on Uganda's huge Tilenga-Kingfisher oil project.

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan met with Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni last weekend to sign three key deals to allow oil to be exported via the 1445-kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline from 2024 or 2025.

There have been many false dawns on this complex $16 billion development, but this time appears different, with momentum building towards project sanction in the coming months.


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While financing for the controversial pipeline has yet to be concluded, it is now likely to secure backing despite vehement objections from environmental campaigners.

This will be a huge relief to French operator Total whose other massive project in East Africa, Mozambique LNG, has been suspended for security reasons amid suggestions the supermajor was close to declaring force majeure.

The Entebbe accords will also be music to the ears of Museveni — who lost a soul mate after former Tanzania president John Magufuli died last month — and ease fears he will not be in office to see his legacy scheme come to fruition.

For Hassan, her willingness to sign off on terms agreed by Magufuli underscores positive noises made to foreign investors that she will pursue more business-friendly policies than her predecessor.

However, a true test of her pro-business credentials will be to quickly conclude a vital host government agreement that will allow Shell and Equinor to progress their long-delayed $30 billion liquefied natural gas project in Tanzania.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)