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East African refined products pipeline firms up

The governments of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda are planning to construct an East African refined products pipeline, in a move to end the unreliability of truck supplies to inland East Africa

The pipeline will distribute products from Uganda's planned inland refinery, and also will allow Ugandan products to be exported from Mombasa, Kenya. The new pipeline will run from Eldoret in inland Kenya - the end-point of the existing pipeline which carries products inland from Mombasa - to Uganda's capital, Kampala, and from there to Rwanda's capital, Kigali. The refinery, planned to be constructed near the Lake Albert oilfields, is due to be pipeline-connected to Kampala, allowing its products to flow to main cities in the region.

The section between Eldoret and Kampala will be able to deliver products imported from Mombasa to Kampala, which at present receives its fuels by road-tanker from Eldoret - leading to high costs and, in bad weather, shortages. But the Eldoret-Kampala section will also be configured for reverse-flow, allowing Uganda's refined products to reach world markets.

The completion target is 2017, in readiness for the refinery's planned start-up in 2017-18. In January, UK engineering consultancy Penspen was awarded the feasibility-study contract for the Kampala-Kigali part of the system.

At present, the products being piped inland are either imported or come from the Mombasa refinery, which became wholly-owned by the Kenyan state in November when India's Essar completed the sale of its 50%. The future for the facility - which operates at less than 35,000 barrels a day (b/d) and needs extensive modernisation - is undecided, but the head of the state's National Oil Corporation has said it should be shut-down. Kenya's fuel marketers, which are obliged to source part of their supplies from the refinery, have said they could import better-quality products at lower cost.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government has called for detailed proposals for the financing, development and operation of its planned refinery from the six bidders on its short-list - Marubeni, and consortiums led by China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, Petrofac, RT - Global Resources, SK Energy and Vitol. It plans to select the winning bidder for the 60,000 b/d facility, to be built in two phases of 30,000 b/d each, by mid-year.

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