The Solicitor General has advised government not to be tempted to divulge details of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project to any third parties since the agreement contains confidential information.
Uganda, Tanzania and the two oil companies of Total E&P, and China’s CNOOC last month signed the East African Crude Oil Pipeline deal that included the Tariff and Transportation Agreement (TTA) between the pipeline company and the shippers of the crude oil through the pipeline.
The two government and oil firms also signed the Host Government Agreement for the Republic of Uganda and the shareholding Agreement (SHA) for shareholders to the EACOP Company
Recently, lawyer , Male Mabirizi ran to court to force government reveal the details of the East African oil pipeline agreement.
However, the Solicitor General has written to the Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary warning the ministry of making the agreement public since it contains confidential information.
“All the three contractual agreements contain a confidentiality clause which prohibits disclosure of information of a financial, technical or commercial nature relating to EACOP project to any third party except with consent of the other party or where the disclosure is allowed by law or disclosure is as a result of a court order or required in court proceedings,” the Solicitor General said in a letter to the Permanent Secretary.
“The HGA, TTA and SHA set out in detail crucial and commercially sensitive business information concerning financial, technical and commercial aspects of the EACOP project which information was provided in confidence by the investors to government. The parties agreed to the confidentiality clause in the said documents in order to give legal protection to trade secrets, proprietary information, business data and business intelligence among others enshrined in the said documents.”
According to the Solicitor General, Uganda agreed to a confidentiality clause in each of the agreements where it undertook to keep confidential all information in the agreements.
“In our view, disclosure of the above contractual documents is likely to undermine the bankability of the EACOP project as disclosure is likely to disadvantage the investors in the course of commercial negotiations for project finance with the lenders which will have detrimental consequences to Uganda and the people of Uganda as a whole.”
The Solicitor General insists that the public interest in the disclosure of the oil pipeline deal details is not greater than the harm contemplated by the disclosure which he says needs to be avoided.
“Therefore, based on the provision of the law and the available jurisprudence on the right of access to information which is confidential in nature, we advise that the HGA, TTA and SHA should not be disclosed to the applicant,” the Solicitor General says.
He however advises Mabirizi to report the matter to offices mandated to handle criminal cases in case there is any criminal act committed during the signing of the agreements.