DRC: Kinshasa paves way for oil exploitation
AMBITION. Determined to make oil a key sector of its diversification, the DRC has announced tenders for twenty-seven oil permits and three gas blocks.
By African point
has been published
VS’It is an important turning point that will move the DRC forward among the major oil and gas producers. Indeed, on Thursday, July 28, tenders for twenty-seven oil permits and three gas blocks were announced by the authorities. “The launch of the tender process shows that we are ready to put our resource potential at the service of our country,” President Felix Tshisekedi said at the opening ceremony, adding that fossil fuel production would boost the development of the Central African giant, whose economy was up until then. focused on the exploitation of mineral resources.
The timing of this transformation is not insignificant. Kinshasa hopes to take advantage of high oil prices and renewed Western interest in alternatives to Russian crude.
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Economic opportunity or environmental disaster?
However, these prospects for economic growth are not unanimous. Environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, oppose the project, which they believe will have disastrous consequences for communities bordering these oil blocks, biodiversity and the global climate, as it particularly affects the complex, rich in peat bogs. central cuvette.Congolese Minister Didier Budimbu said tenders for the allocation of rights to 27 oil blocks out of 32 originally selected, including two returned by Israeli businessman Dan Gertler and three blocks for gas companies, began on July 28. Hydrocarbons. The relevant blocks are distributed in different parts of the country as follows: three in the coastal basin, nine in the central Cuvette, eleven in the Tanganyika Graben and four in the Albertine Graben, he explained. Three gas blocks are located in Lake Kivu.
In February, the Congolese state reached a $2 billion settlement with sulfur tycoon Dan Gertler, who owns the rights to Blocks 1 and 2 in the Albertine Graben. In April, the Congolese government canceled the option of auctioning oil blocks, including at least nine located in the sensitive Central Cuvette ecosystem.
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Combination of risks
According to the environmental organization Greenpeace, oil blocks in the Central Cuvette, rich in biodiversity, contain peatlands containing about 30 gigatonnes of carbon equivalent to three years of global CO emissions.2. For the NGO, this government project will have disastrous consequences for communities bordering these oil blocks, biodiversity and the global climate. This is denied by the Congolese Minister of the Environment, Ève Bazaïba, who confirmed on Congolese public television that appropriate investigations have been carried out to allow this separation of exploration rights in the central Cuvette.
“I am sure of our commitment to our partners here to conduct mining and exploration using the most modern technological means that protect the environment, fauna and flora, ecosystems, as well as the ecological balance,” Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi tried to assure, during this official ceremony.
He emphasized that the drilling and exploitation works will be subject to the environmental management plan to minimize negative impacts on the ecosystems. According to Félix Tshisekedi, environmental impact studies at each stage will be reviewed and approved by the Congolese Ministry of the Environment.
The head of state wished the DRC to leave “all mining” to develop its oil and gas potential for the benefit of the population “in a win-win partnership that respects environmental standards and the interests of local communities.” .
For this reason, he invited Congolese investors to “establish strategic alliances” with companies that will acquire the rights to these twenty-seven oil and three gas blocks. Congolese Hydrocarbons Minister Didier Budimbu said that “selected companies (after these calls for tenders) will be invited to sign production sharing agreements with the DRC” and Congolese operators in accordance with the Hydrocarbons Code in force in the country. According to research by his ministry, the DRC, which produces 23,000 barrels of oil per day, has 22 billion barrels of potential across all segmental basins and 66 billion standard cubic meters of gas dissolved in the waters of Lake Kivu. President Tshisekedi wanted to urgently entrust the exploitation of gas from this lake to “experienced operators”.
Tenders for oil blocks will be reviewed within six months, and for gas blocks within three months. Whether the investors will be there remains to be seen. Nothing is less certain. In addition to environmental criteria, the prevailing insecurity and lack of infrastructure in several areas where the blocks are proposed may discourage interested international experts.
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