Tanzania and Uganda signed on May 26 an intergovernmental agreement for the construction of the world's longest electrically heated crude-oil export pipeline, which is being designed by Houston-based Gulf Interstate Engineering Co.

The 1,445-kilometer East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, which is being developed by France's Total SA, China's CNOOC and UK's Tullow Oil, would enable the commercialization of the estimated 6.5 billion barrels of crude-oil reserves in Uganda's Albertine basin. The line will run from Kabaale, in the Lake Albert region of Uganda, to Chongoleani, near the port city of Tanga on the east coast of Tanzania.

The three oil companies awarded in April a Front-End Engineering and Design services contract to Gulf Interstate Engineering Co. Earlier, GIE had been involved conceptual design and other pre-FEED services that led to picking Tanzania as the preferred route instead of the earlier suggested line via Kenya.

"The EACOP project FEED phase will address a number of technical and execution planning challenges including designing and insulation and heat tracing approach for the pipeline due to the high wax content of the crude oil," said GIE in a statement.

Other challenges at the FEED phase, GIE added, include local power generation options and planning for early construction works to accommodate pipe deliveries, coating and storage in advance of pipeline construction.

“Gulf Interstate Engineering will perform the FEED in its Houston office, under supervision of the pipeline project team which include representatives from the three oil companies and also from the governments of Tanzania and Uganda,” said GIE.

The project entails nine main components, such as installation of systems to accommodate a design flow rate of 216,000 barrels per day, as well as a 105-km feeder pipeline in Uganda, running from the central production center in Buliisa to the first pump station at Kabaale. The 24-in.-dia buried electric-heated crude pipeline, which will have a pounds-per-square-inch gauge, will be connected to a maximum of six pump-and-heater stations along the route up to the crossing of the East Africa Rift that occurs at approximately the 950-km mark, according to a project brief.

In addition, two pressure reduction stations will be constructed along the remaining portion of the route.

At Chongoleani, the contractor will construct an onshore storage tank farm of five heated storage tanks with a capacity of 500,000 bbls.

A marine terminal pump station designed to load a 1-million-barrel tanker within 28 hours will also be put in place, in addition to a 1.7-km offshore trestle serving a single-berth load-out platform.

The pipeline will be financed by a mix of debt and equity, with the former expected to be between 60% and 70%.

Uganda and Tanzania have agreed on a tariff of $12.2 per barrel, which is $3.7 per barrel below the estimated cost of routing the pipeline via Kenya to the port of Lamu.