SOCO International plc (“SOCO” or “the Company”)

 

SOCO comments on unfounded allegations in film,
and re-emphasises commitment to helping local communities

 

SOCO was made aware on Friday 11 April of a number of allegations brought forward by North Kivu Film Productions Ltd depicted in its film entitled ‘Virunga’ which is being screened at two international film festivals.

SOCO has neither seen the film nor an advance transcript. However, based on the information provided by the production company, SOCO understands the film contains allegations against SOCO that are unfounded and inaccurate. It is important to note that the film has been produced by one of Company’s detractors, and is therefore not an objective portrayal of the facts surrounding SOCO’s operations.  We have sought legal advice considering the scale of the allegations.

Moreover, SOCO understands the film misrepresents the scope and location of the Company’s activities in Block V, does not reflect the Company’s track record to date as a responsible operator, and does not take into account that responsible local involvement is core to SOCO’s risk management strategy.

SOCO is a responsible company and is extremely sensitive to the environmental significance of the Virunga National Park.  This is reflected in the strict step-wise process that is uniquely characteristic of the Block V project wherein the approval of the DRC authorities is required for each phase of the project and an emphasis is placed on environmental monitoring studies and social investment during the early phases.  SOCO’s only planned activity continues to be the scientific studies involving environmental baseline studies, social investment projects and a seismic survey of Lake Edward due to start shortly.  No drilling has been planned or is warranted at this stage.

SOCO’s social investment programmes were launched at Nyakakoma, a village located near Lake Edward, in August 2013.  The launch was a significant event for the communities around Lake Edward as the social investment programmes had been approved by the DRC national government and had wide support from the local communities and local authorities.

During 2013, SOCO committed over US$0.9 million towards social projects for local communities, including:

  • The rehabilitation of a dilapidated road between Nyakakoma and Ishasha,
  • The installation of a communications mast at Nyakakoma
  • The provision of medical aid programmes (including a mobile hospital and a disease mapping campaign to combat neglected tropical diseases).

It is emphasised that SOCO operates under a strict Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which it takes extremely seriously. Any reported breach will always be investigated to the furthest extent possible.

SOCO fully appreciates and supports a public debate on the compatibility of conservation and economic development.  However, the benefit of such debate becomes limited when one side of the debate presents false allegations, as has the aforementioned film, and when there has been little or no opportunity for balance to be included by allowing SOCO to put across its side of the story with facts concerning its location and activities in Block V.

SOCO’s approach continues to be one of openness and transparency, and SOCO welcomes dialogue with all its stakeholders.

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. For media enquiries please contact Luke Chauveau on +4478970054560, Ileana Georgiadis on +447796794895 or Oktavia Dangel on +447827087233

  2. SOCO is an international oil and gas exploration and Production Company, headquartered in London, traded on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The Company has interests in Vietnam, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Angola.

  3. SOCO gained an interest in the Albertine Graben, in eastern DRC, when it was awarded the Block V licence in June 2006 by the Government of the DRC. This award was ratified by a DRC presidential decree in 2010.  Block V is an area of approx. 7,500 km2 on the border with Uganda; within Block V, SOCO’s specific area of interest is Lake Edward (approx 1,630 km2) and the adjacent lowland savannah which are both within the Virunga National Park.

  4. It is emphasised that Block V is not located within the mountainous Mikeno Sector, home to the famous Mountain Gorillas. Furthermore, SOCO has stated it will never seek to have operations in the Mountain Gorilla habitat, the Virunga Volcanoes or the Virunga equatorial rainforest. This has been subject to much inaccurate media speculation.

  5. No drilling has been planned or is even warranted at this stage.  Currently, SOCO's only actual and planned activity is associated with environmental and social studies;social investment programmes;and scientific studies, which include a seismic survey on Lake Edward, in DRC waters, due to begin in April/May 2014.

  6. SOCO’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, implemented through our HSES Management System, sets out our values of honesty and fairness and promoting trust amongst those with whom we work, including the protection of human rights and respect for the indigenous rights and cultures of the communities within our host countries.  We adopt the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights implemented through our Security Policy and supporting procedures. Further policy and commitment statements relating to human rights can be viewed on our website, www.socointernational.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SOCO is aware of attempts to impersonate the company on social media. SOCO does not have a Facebook page.