Because the agreement involves secret information, the Solicitor General has cautioned the government not to be enticed to provide specifics of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project to any third parties.
Last month, Uganda, Tanzania, Total E&P’s two oil firms, and China’s CNOOC signed the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Agreement, which includes a Tariff and Transportation Agreement (TTA) between the pipeline company and the crude oil shippers using the pipeline.
The two governments and oil companies also signed the Republic of Uganda’s Host Government Agreement and the EACOP Company’s Shareholding Agreement (SHA).
Male Mabirizi, a lawyer, recently went to court to demand that the government release the specifics of the East African oil pipeline agreement.
The Solicitor General, on the other hand, has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, urging him not to make the agreement public since it contains secret information.
“All three contractual agreements contain a confidentiality clause that prohibits disclosure of financial, technical, or commercial information relating to the EACOP project to any third party unless the other party consents, or the disclosure is allowed by law, or the disclosure is as a result of a court order or required in court proceedings,” the Solicitor General said in a statement.
“The HGA, TTA, and SHA detailed critical and commercially sensitive business information on the EACOP project’s financial, technical, and commercial aspects, which the investors supplied to the government in confidence. The parties agreed to the secrecy clause in the papers in order to provide legal protection to trade secrets, proprietary information, company data, and business intelligence, among other things.”
Uganda consented to a secrecy clause in each of the agreements, according to the Solicitor General, in which it pledged to keep all information contained in the agreements confidential.
“In our opinion, public disclosure of the above contractual documents is likely to jeopardize the bankability of the EACOP project because it will disadvantage investors in commercial negotiations for project finance with lenders, which will have negative consequences for Uganda and the Ugandan people as a whole.”
The Solicitor General believes that the public interest in knowing the facts of the oil pipeline agreement is not higher than the harm that the revelation would cause, which he claims should be avoided.
According to the Solicitor General, “based on the provision of the law and the available jurisprudence on the right of access to confidential information,” the HGA, TTA, and SHA should not be revealed to the applicant.
In the event that any criminal act is performed during the signing of the agreements, he instructs Mabirizi to submit the problem to authorities that deal with criminal cases.