The French energy giant TotalEnergies says it's launched an assessment for land it acquired for its $10 billion projects in Uganda and Tanzania that have been lambasted by environmentalists.
The move comes despite opposition from environmentalists who say the projects will devastate the livelihoods of thousands of people and harm the regions fragile ecosystem.
The company says it will submit its land acquisition report by April. It has named former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou to lead the assessment, calling him a "recognised expert in African economic development".
Zinsou is the founder of consulting firm SouthBridge, with which TotalEnergies has collaborated in the past.
- HRW warns of 'irreparable harm' to East Africa's ecosystem with TotalEnergies oil project
- Ugandans sue TotalEnergies in France, accusing it of human rights violations
The Tilenga and Eacop projects, it says, include a land acquisition programme covering 6,400 hectares that's being carried out on behalf of the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments.
Some 19,140 households and communities who either own or use plots of land are affected, with 775 primary residences being relocated.
Tilenga is targeting oil under the rich Murchison Falls nature reserve in western Uganda, with 419 wells planned.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has demanded the plans be halted, saying in a July report that the project had already "devastated thousands of people's livelihoods in Uganda".
The oilfield would "ultimately displace over 100,000 people," it said.
TotalEnergies rejects the allegations.
Production from the oilfields will be transported to the port of Tanga in Tanzania, through the Eacop pipeline.
TotalEnergies owns 62 percent of the project.