Uganda on Wednesday issued a final tender to a company controlled by TotalEnergies to build a $3.5 billion oil pipeline through Tanzania.
The final approval will give way to the construction of the pipeline that will be used to transport crude oil from the country to the international one.
The signing comes after Uganda's Council of Ministers on Monday approved the construction of the pipeline by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Company Limited.
TotalEnergies is the largest shareholder in EACOP, with a stake of 62%. Other investors are state-owned Uganda National Oil Company and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation, with 15% each, and China's CNOOC (0883.HK), with 8%.
The French TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation signed an agreement worth $10 billion at the beginning of the year to exploit Ugandan oil fields and transport the crude oil via a 1,445-kilometer pipeline to the port of Tanga, in Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean.
The project, which includes drilling in Murchison Falls, Uganda's largest national park, has faced strong opposition from activists and environmental groups who say it threatens the region's fragile ecosystem and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has promised to press ahead with the project regardless of the EU resolution, warning that the government would look for other partners should TotalEnergies decide to "listen to the EU Parliament".
The project aims to extract the huge reserves of crude oil under Lake Albert, a 160-kilometre natural border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and send the oil through what would become the world's longest heated pipeline. .
Museveni has in the past hailed the project as a major economic boost for the landlocked country, where many live in poverty.