Message 2 – Oil in North Kivu: The Fear of Oil

Oil in North Kivu

Oil exploration forms a serious threat to the oldest and most precious nature reserve in Africa: the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Local communities, conservationists and human rights organizations oppose the search for oil; according to both national and international laws it is illegal to search for oil in the park.

IUCN NL has produced two videos on oil exploration in Virunga and its potential environmental and human rights impact. These local stories were filmed in the region of North Kivu. They are intended to give a voice to local communities living in and around Virunga National Park. It is their voice, their fears and feelings about oil development in North Kivu.

Virunga National Park harbors a greater variety of plant and animal species than any other region in Africa. The area is home to the world’s last mountain gorillas, as well as hippos and numerous bird species. Nature provides a source of income for local communities: they derive income from increasing eco-tourism activities, and 50.000 people in the region obtain clean water and fish from the ecosystems in the park.

Oil in North Kivu: The Fear of Oil expresses the fears of locals and the promises made to local communities by the oil company SOCO during the exploration phase of Block V in Virunga National Park.

Source: What if We Change


4 thoughts on “Message 2 – Oil in North Kivu: The Fear of Oil

  1. In response to this posting SOCO International plc would like to clarify the following:

    Although SOCO has engaged with the IUCN in the past, we were not contacted by IUCN for comment during the filming of these videos.

    SOCO is committed to dialogue with stakeholders who have an interest in or will be impacted by our operations in Block V. For this purpose, we have carried out an engagement programme of visiting local communities on and near the shores of Lake Edward to better understand their needs and concerns, to correct inaccuracies and to describe and explain our operations in their area. We held over 10 villager meetings in 2012 and found the response to be very positive to this engagement. We were accompanied on these visits by the Congolese Wildlife Authority (also known as “ICCN”) in their capacity as independent monitors of SOCO’s activities.

    SOCO is committed to managing its operations responsibly and sustainably, and the minimization of its environmental impacts remains a business priority. During 2011, SOCO commissioned a detailed environmental impact assessment and a social impact assessment in relation to its proposed aerial survey and seismic acquisition programme over Block V. The main objective in conducting the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was to identify the potential impacts of these early phase exploration activities and to propose measures to mitigate, control and track such impacts. Amongst the many considerations, the ESIA took into account the history of the area, its environmental significance, the demographics and its socioeconomics, including the importance of fishing and agriculture to local livelihoods.

    The ESIA received DRC Governmental approval in September 2011 and SOCO was issued with an Environmental Acceptability Certificate by the DRC Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, Nature and Travel (MECNT). This granted SOCO permission to conduct an aerial survey over Block V. Our activity throughout this stage is being overseen by a DRC government-appointed Environmental Monitoring Committee which is made up of representatives from the DRC MECNT, one delegate from Congo Environmental Studies Group (also known as “GEEC”) and two from ICCN.

    The aerial survey is the only exploration activity planned at this time and has not yet commenced due to the security situation in eastern DRC. Depending on the results of the aerial survey, SOCO will consider applying for permission to proceed with the seismic acquisition programme on Lake Edward. It is emphasised that no drilling has been planned or is even warranted during this early phase of scientific surveys.

    In line with the commitments set out in the ESIA, SOCO has commissioned environmental baseline studies, including fish and mollusc studies on Lake Edward. These studies have been determined through close collaboration with GEEC and ICCN and will be undertaken by Okapi Environment Conseil SPRL, a Congolese consulting firm which specialises in environmental and social evaluations.

    SOCO’s goal is to be a positive presence whereby we build sustainable value for our host country and its local communities, as well as for our own shareholders. SOCO has an exemplary track record of carrying out sustainable social projects in other parts of the DRC.

    1. These videos were produced to give the people of North Kivu a voice about their environmental concerns. As the videos show very clearly, the local people are highly concerned with the developments concerning intended oil exploration in the area. Naturally, if SOCO International plc is interested in telling its side of the story on camera, we would be happy to provide the company with that opportunity.

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