The British government has offered support to a controversial multi-billion pound plan to drill for oil in one of Africa’s oldest national parks, according to documents obtained by Energydesk.
The project, involving British company Tullow Oil; French firm Total and Chinese oil company CNOOC, could see dozens of wells drilled in Murchison Falls national park in Uganda.
The park is home to one of the last remaining populations of the world’s most endangered species of giraffe, leading to warnings by experts that if the park is damaged the species could be at risk.
A leaked Total report obtained by Energydesk has revealed that damage to the park has already occurred.
Yet documents reveal that British trade officials have classed Tullow’s operations in the park as an “opportunity” worth over £1bn to UK businesses and have been keen to offer the firm financial backing.
According to files released under freedom of information, the government has held talks with Tullow about providing UK taxpayer backed loans and insurance for its operations in the country.
Uganda is not the only example of British firms wishing to drill in national parks and other protected areas.
The findings form part of wider investigation by Energydesk, which found that British companies hold the rights to explore for oil in national parks and protected areas all over sub-Saharan Africa.
The UN has cautioned against drilling for oil in national parks due to the potential damage to ecosystems and the well-being of people living nearby.
National Parks Under Threat
Energydesk scoured oil licence maps collated by OpenOil and found that that 6 British companies hold exploration licences covering at least 29 protected sites in 8 countries.
This trend is at odds with the position of international institutions.
Speaking to Energydesk a UN Environment spokesperson warned that: “Highly protected areas are protected because of their ecological value or vulnerability. In common with all industrial activity,…