May 17, 2023

SMBC Group announces “No Current Involvement” in East African Crude Oil Pipeline

Africa – Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC Group) reportedly said that it is “not currently involved” in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), a large-scale fossil fuel project that is increasingly criticized for its impacts on local communities, nature and the climate. We welcome the announcement, as this is the first time that the group has issued a statement distancing itself from EACOP.

SMBC Group affiliate Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation had not only provided a large amount of funds to Total, which is promoting EACOP but was also reportedly serving as a financial advisor on EACOP. To date, civil society around the world, including in Africa, has repeatedly inquired as to whether or not SMBC is involved in EACOP, and has taken simultaneous global action to demand that SMBC state that it is not involved in EACOP. 350 Japan also questioned and requested SMBC Group’s involvement in EACOP at its general shareholder’s meeting last year.

However, until yesterday, there had been no response from the side of SMBC Group or SMBC distancing itself from EACOP. In yesterday’s press report, they only stated that they are not currently involved in the EACOP, and it remains unclear what involvement they have had in the EACOP to date and whether SMBC may be involved in the EACOP in the future and whether they will continue acting as financial advisors to the project.

350 Japan requests that SMBC Group and SMBC state that they will not be involved in the EACOP business in the future. At the same time, we reiterate our call to cut off the flow of funds to all fossil fuel projects, including EACOP, and support energy conservation and renewable energy.

Masayoshi Iyoda, Team Leader of Japan, commented: 

“Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group’s (SMBC Group) explanation that it is not currently involved in the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) has brought some relief to African and global citizens suffering from the climate crisis. SMBC Group and SMBC should make it clear that they will never be involved in EACOP in the future.

With this news, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank is the only one of the three Japanese megabanks that have not explained its status of involvement in EACOP. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank should also issue a statement on whether it is not involved in EACOP.

The three megabanks should do what they can before the June shareholders’ meeting: stop supporting fossil fuel businesses like EACOP and strengthen their climate policies to be consistent with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.”

Charity Migwi, Regional campaigner, said:

“It is encouraging that more and more institutions, including Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group recognise the impacts of EACOP on local communities, wildlife, sensitive ecosystems and the climate and are choosing to distance themselves from it. This is a testament to the power of the voices of communities and activists that have persisted in resisting this harmful project. It’s critical that we cut off financing to fossil fuels projects which are fuelling the climate crisis, causing untold devastation to our communities and instead invest in safe, reliable, sustainable and community-centred renewable energy.”



Notes to editors

East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP)
Oil major Total Energies aims to build the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), the world’s largest heated crude oil pipeline, connecting Uganda to Tanzania at a distance of 1,443 km. The project threatens the water resources and livelihoods of millions of people, destroys some of the world’s most important nature reserves, and could result in 34 million tons of CO2 emissions at peak each year. Numerous human rights violations against protesting residents and civil society groups have been reported, and several lawsuits have been filed. EACOP has also been condemned by the EU Parliament in connection with human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania. It is estimated that as many as 118,000 people in both countries are at risk of forced displacement due to the pipeline construction and related development of the Tilenga oil field.

For this reason, local communities in Africa and civil society around the world, including 350 Japan, have urged major financial institutions and institutional investors to state that they will not support EACOP.



Masayoshi Iyoda
Japan Acting Team Leader,

Christine Mbithi
Communications Manager,