Statement on inaccuracies in the conservation group websites regarding SOCO’s activities
To coincide with the UNESCO World Heritage Convention currently taking place in St Petersburg, certain conservation groups have placed articles on their websites which contain inaccuracies about SOCO International plc’s activities in Block V, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In reference to these inaccuracies, we would like to clarify the following:
SOCO International plc (SOCO)’s involvement in ‘Block V’ is at the express invitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government.
SOCO considers minimal environmental impact to be a priority in the areas we operate in, but we acknowledge that we are a commercially driven company.
We intend for our positive social impact on the ‘Block V’ surroundings to far outweigh any minor environmental impact that we may have. It is absolutely our intention to have a positive social impact on the local communities’ lives, so we can truly say as an organisation that we have been a positive presence. We have already been in dialogue with many local stakeholders to understand their needs and priorities.
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. We are also working closely with the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (‘ICCN’).
We would like to emphasise that we are at the preliminary phase of exploration for possible hydrocarbons and, even if successful, we are several years away from concluding our scientific research. At this stage, no drilling has been planned.
‘Block V’ currently encompasses an area of the Virunga National Park, including a part of Lake Edward. However, we would like to make it clear that Block V is not located close to the Mikeno Sector, which is home to the famous Mountain Gorillas. This has been subject to much inaccurate media speculation.
Furthermore, SOCO has stated it will never seek to have operations in the mountain gorilla habitat, the Virunga Volcanoes or the Virunga equatorial rainforest.
The initial exploration phase includes an aerial survey which would then be followed by a survey on Lake Edward, both commissioned by the DRC Government. We do not expect any animals or fish will be harmed as a direct result of our activities.