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Uganda oil project casts shadow over Total’s eco-friendly image

French energy firm plans to drill in national park and build 900-mile pipeline in sensitive environments

Protesters march in Paris, France, on April 9, 2022. [Photo Credit: Pierrick Villette/Abaca/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)] By Dorothée Moisan for Floodlight

The French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has worked to cultivate a green reputation with climate goals and plans to ramp up renewable power, but a massive east African oil project is casting a shadow over that messaging campaign. Total plans to drill for oil in a richly biodiverse national park in Uganda and build a 900-mile pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will flow through sensitive environments to a port in Tanzania for export. Burning that oil could release the equivalent of 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, according to opponents of the project, who point out scientists have said the world needs to drastically decrease, not increase, emissions. Total, France’s second largest company by revenue, rebranded in May 2021, renaming itself TotalEnergies and adopting a rainbow-themed logo. But its work in east Africa has become a rallying point for protesters, including during large climate marches in France last month.