- SOCO is uncertain of what the Virunga National Park landscape looked like when it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. However, we are aware of what the area looks like today, scarred by decades of deforestation, poaching and violence against its inhabitants. Despite the efforts and financial investments of some organizations in the last two decades, very little positive change has taken place in the Virunga National Park during this period. To ignore this fact purely because this area has a World Heritage designation is disingenuous. We believe it may be time to consider a different approach, and that our involvement in the region, if approved by the Government of the DRC, can be positive.
READ THE LATEST UNESCO/IUCN STATE OF CONSERVATION REPORT FOR VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK – where it is clearly indicated that the park management has despite the context successfully continued improving the lives of the local communities with the construction of the hydroelectric power station at Mutwanga, with the establishment of a system for the canalization of water at Rumangabo, with the reparation of roads in Bukima And Vitshumbi, with the production and distribution of briquettes at Goma, with reforestation activities….
READ MORE ABOUT THE OIL INDUSTRY’S ‘DIFFERENT APPROACH’ & TRACK RECORD IN AFRICA AND HOW PETRODOLLARS HAVE NOT HELPED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO REDUCE POVERTY; INDEED, THE PRESENCE OF OIL HAS EXACERBATED POVERTY AND CONFLICT
- 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. 
LISTEN TO THE COMMUNITIES, THEIR FEARS AND CONCERNS ABOUT OIL DEVELOPMENTS IN VIRUNGA
- SOCO held over 10 villager meetings in 2012, and found the response to be very positive to this engagement and the feedback has been that the vast majority welcome us as a potential catalyst for positive change.
RESPONSE OF THE COMMUNITIES AND THEIR GROWING OPPOSITION TO SOCO’S OIL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
- SOCO cares about the environment and the local communities, and we are of the conviction that our activities will provide an economic stimulus in the region for the communities’ livelihood, and accordingly this will help to address the pervasive poverty that is currently one of the primary threats to conservation.
RE – THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN EASTERN DRC
- SOCO is committed to conducting our business activities in an honest and ethical manner, to protecting the rights of indigenous people and to ensuring that the health and safety of people and the protection of the environment remains a business priority.
RESPONSE OF THE COMMUNITIES CONDEMNING THE USE OF ARMED FORCES DURING SOCO’S ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM IN LAKE EDWARD
- 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.
LOCAL COMMUNITIES IN BAS CONGO DO NOT BENEFIT OF SOCO’S OIL ACTIVITIES IN THE REGION
- SOCO adheres to all the DRC’s environmental preservation regulations, which include the continual use of environmental impact studies at each stage of any of our activities.
RE – LEGAL STATUS OF VIRUNGA NP AND HOW SOCO’S ACTIVITIES ARE IN BREACH OF CONGOLESE’S NATIONAL LAWS
- SOCO is fully committed to conducting its business in an honest and ethical manner and it does not accept the allegations about the Company that have been inferred by the motion. The Company does not condone, partake in or tolerate corrupt or illegal activity whatsoever. Corrupt business practices are not acceptable to the Company as reasonable standards of conduct. SOCO has a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics to which all its personnel adhere; any claims of breaches of this Code will be investigated.
- SOCO does not condone any illegal activity whatsoever. The Company absolutely does not use violence, threats of violence or intimidation; corrupt practices do not serve our business interests and are not acceptable to the Company as reasonable standards of conduct. This is a message that we give not only to NGOs, but also to all parties connected to SOCOin every country and we will continue our efforts to make this message very clear to all concerned.
RE – LOCAL NGOS URGES SOCO TO INVESTIGATE DEATH THREATS TO CONGOLESE ACTIVISTS
- “SOCO’s involvement in Block V is at the express invitation of the DRC formalized through a Production Sharing Contract signed in 2006 and ratified by Presidential Decree in 2010 for the purposes of exploration and production of hydrocarbons. SOCO currently have a contractual commitment with the DRC to assess the hydrocarbon potential of Block V. The DRC has determined that our activities are legal according to their own legislation. If the DRC government decides that our involvement in Block V is no longer legal then SOCO will, of course, discontinue all activities.”
- June 11th, 2014: ‘In relation to Virunga National Park we will complete our existing operational programme of work in Virunga which we anticipate will conclude within approximately 30 days of the date of this statement. The company commits not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park unless UNESCO and the DRC government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status’ (Statement).
This shows however that SOCO is open to drilling for oil if the park’s World Heritage status is removed or adapted; oil exploration may therefore occur in the future, posing the same threats to the park. Source: Emiliy Lora James
To be continued…….
 Rainforest Rescue: SOCO International PLC plans to drill for oil in Virunga National Park – TAKE ACTION