DRC - Congo (K)

Tuesday, May 26 2009 by


The Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) is a country where SOCO has an increasing interest.

At present, the only fully-ratified block is Nganzi, where SOCO's subsidiary holds an 85% stake. As I indicated in the recent thread here http://www.stockopedia.com/forum/view/28022/interim-management-statement there appear to be several large prospects on the block and they are likely to be drilled in Q2 2010 - and look sufficiently interesting that they may not be farmed-down first!

There are at least two other blocks of interest to SOCO in DRC, with Block 5 (including part of Lake Edward) the furthest advanced, having a signed PSC and awaiting only the Presidential Decree. SOCO has a 38.25% stake there and will drill two explo wells in the first five years after the decree. Partner Dominion speaks very highly of the potential of Block 5, especially under Lake Edward which may well turn out to be an analogue of Lake Albert to the north, which has provided company-making discoveries for Tullow and Heritage.

This thread is intended to discuss all activities of SOCO within the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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SOCO International plc is an international oil and gas exploration and production company. The Company has oil and gas interests in Vietnam, which includes Block 9-2 and Block 16-1; Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), which includes Marine XI Block and Marine XIV Block, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), consists of Nganzi block and Block V and Angola, which include Cabinda Onshore North Block. The Company's operations are located in South East Asia and Africa. It holds its interests in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), through its 85%-owned subsidiary, SOCO Exploration and Production Congo SA (SOCO EPC). It holds its interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) through its 85%-owned subsidiary SOCO Exploration and Production DRC Sprl. The Company’s net entitlement volumes were approximately 15,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day. more »

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446 Posts on this Thread show/hide all

emptyend 4th May '11 267 of 446

Rather an interesting article in Africa Energy Intelligence (free to those who are registered) that I stumbled across in my junk mail folder.

In essence it says that ENI is making a big play in DRC, looking for 7 blocks (including 3 in the Central Basin and one next to SOCO's block 5) and committing $200mn+ over the next 5 years. Intriguingly it suggests that a deal could be done by the end of April - but, with this being Africa, it is no surprise we are already in May!

SOCO's assets in Africa could yet prove an excellent fit.......


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emptyend 19th Mar '12 268 of 446

I see that Global Witness have been trying to stir things up again re Block 5.

Since Global Witness would seem to have used a mole to get documents from government sources, I'd guess that some people might prefer to look at what are (purportedly) the original documents (in French) for the exploration and aero survey permissions:



Of particular note in the Global Witness press release (trying to misinform people via the media), is this passage:

“Undertaking oil exploration or exploitation on the ground in a UNESCO World Heritage site constitutes a breach of the Convention on World Heritage, as well as DRC’s own laws and constitution”, said Colin Robertson of Global Witness. “SOCO’s plans are a real threat to the protection of Virunga’s wildlife and to people who depend on Lake Edward. The region is also marked by ethnic tensions and the presence of armed militia groups is still a threat to stability. These factors could be exacerbated if oil exploration is carried out without consulting local people.

There is no doubt at all that the company have not only already undertaken extensive consultations with the local community (as the Global Witness release later admits), including all sorts of politicians and local leaders as well as ordinary villagers, but that the company will continue to undertake such consultations whenever they are contemplating work that might impinge on local activities....see the quote from the RNS last Wednesday:

Over the last year, SOCO has actively engaged with local communities, and regional and national authorities and other stakeholders regarding environmental and social impact assessments and potential activities described above.  Most specifically, in an effort to bring stakeholders together for full debate, SOCO organised meetings under the authority of the Governor of North Kivu and the Environment Minister of North Kivu which was attended by over 90 stakeholder representatives including ICCN, international and regional NGOs, local fishery representatives, other interested DRC governmental ministries, local customary chiefs and regional and provincial authorities.

Roger Cagle, Deputy Chief Executive of SOCO, commented:

“Our activities within the Virunga National Park continue to be very preliminary and confined to an aerial studyWe will not undertake any direct activity within the Park until we have the results of this aero-survey and we have consulted fully with all primary stakeholders. Our current plans have met with the approvals of all the local authorities. We are very aware of the need to protect the interests of all stakeholders within the Park and are working hard to ensure that we do so.”

The envionmental lobby like to pretend that the only thing that matters in the area are the gorillas....but the reality is that North Kivu province is home to about 6 million people - most of whom are extremely poor and disadvantaged. If some prosperity (or even some economic activity and outside investment) came to the area, I suspect that some of those 6 million people will benefit enough to reduce the incidence of violent disorder and/or poaching and other activities that doubtless also harm the environment for the gorillas and other wildlife.

I'm not sure what sort of morality elevates the perceived interests of a few hundred gorillas so far above the interests of 6 million people - but the Global Witness people and other pressure groups should be looking at these things much more in the round, rather than pursuing their own very narrow obsessions. Done properly, the oil exploration programme should be of some help to the local communities at the same time as not harming the gorillas and wildlife.....and IMO Global Witness and the others would be very much better advised to align their comments with that objective firmly in mind, rather than just trying to mobilise the Global ignorant who want to perpetuate the status quo irrespective of the interests of the local human population.


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kenobi 30th Mar '12 269 of 446

I really really hope that there is some oil in the drc, because all the abuse, and hassle SIA has taken getting will be worth it then,

more from the wwf, not sure there's anything new,


I would observe that the opposition seems pretty well organised and the drip drip of articles, often not including anything new,

good week end everyone,


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emptyend 30th Mar '12 270 of 446

In reply to kenobi, post #269

I would observe that the opposition seems pretty well organised and the drip drip of articles, often not including anything new

Actually there was one new thing this time : they didn't try telling lies about the lack of impact on gorillas. Still other lies there - but less scaremongering than before.


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kenobi 30th Mar '12 271 of 446


I make no comment re the accuracy of the details, the drip drip of these articles making SOCO out to be the bad guys is not good. I just hope that there is a solution and given all this hassle that there is enough Oil there to make this whole thing worthwhile all round !


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MadDutch 1st Apr '12 272 of 446

In reply to kenobi, post #271

Hi Kenobi,

There is a solution and I have posted it on the WWF website, so the author of the defamation and his employers will read it;


Marc Languy is WWF’s Green Heart of Africa Initiative Leader. He needs to be sacked because he has brought the WWF into disrepute and risks legal action against them.

That is very easy to do.

If I felt strongly enough (I do not) I would send the WWF a legal action warning for defamation, unless their lawyers can prove their representative is correct.

If they fail to get Marc Langdon to make a humble retraction and apology, I would issue a small claims court summons for £1000 plus costs, with all proceeds to a bonobo charity. Since it will cost them several thousand sterling in greedy lawyer fees to defend, a climb down will be inevitable, but if the apology is not sufficiently grovelling, I would reject it and go ahead with the summons."

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Isaac 11th Jun '12 273 of 446

Congo (former Zaire)

SOCO International PLC plans to fly aerogravity and aeromagnetic surveys over part of Block V in eastern Congo (former Zaire) in June 2012.

The helicopter surveys will be flown over the Lake Edward portion of the 7,105-sq km block in the southern Albert graben near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

The government approved an environmental and social impact study relating to the initial exploration phases. As many as 1 million people live in subsistence conditions in Virunga National Park, a portion of which is contiguous with Block V.

SOCO E&P DRC is operator of Block V with 38.25% interest. Ophir Energy PLC has 46.75%, and Congo's state Cohydro



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emptyend 22nd Sep '12 274 of 446

It looks as if the DRC government are going to follow a sensible pragmatic approach on Block V:

The Democratic Republic of Congo will allow exploration work inside Africa's oldest national park if significant oil deposits are found there, the country's hydrocarbons minister said on Saturday.......

"The DRC has the right to know what resources it has under the earth, even if it's in the park or the forest, anywhere," minister Crispin Atama Tabe told Reuters in an interview.

It is currently against Congolese law to prospect or exploit minerals inside the country's national parks, but Atama Tabe said the legislation could be reviewed.

"We're going to evaluate the quantity of the deposit. If it's very significant we'll compare the value of the park with the oil... We'll see whether we'll respect the park or not. It's up to us," he said, adding that exploration could take up to three years.

And, as we know, SOCO have said they will be going nowhere near the gorillas in any case.....

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.

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loglorry 23rd Sep '12 275 of 446

"The Democratic Republic of Congo will allow exploration work inside Africa's oldest national park if significant oil deposits are found there, the country's hydrocarbons minister said on Saturday......."

This made me laugh - how do they find significant deposits without exploring for them in the first place? Rather a circular statement no?


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swanvesta 23rd Sep '12 276 of 446

In reply to emptyend, post #274

"We're going to evaluate the quantity of the deposit. If it's very significant we'll compare the value of the park with the oil... We'll see whether we'll respect the park or not. It's up to us," he said, adding that exploration could take up to three years.

I wish they could have found a better way of putting it. They have a responsibility to "respect" the park whatever they decide to do. So using a form of words that suggests they might not is bloody stupid.

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emptyend 24th Sep '12 277 of 446

In reply to swanvesta, post #276

They have a responsibility to "respect" the park whatever they decide to do.

True. But I suspect that the subtext is that, in the event of finding something worth developing, then the Government will simply formally redefine the boundaries of the park - and continue to respect the upland gorilla habitats that are the principal concern of everyone.

That would simply be the pragmatic solution when faced with a potential development that could bring money and jobs to the (substantial but poor) local human population. In other words, the government would be looking for a win/win outcome in which the key habitats are protected and they can still take advantage of an opportunity (if one exists) to improve the lot of their people.

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loglorry 24th Sep '12 278 of 446

....or more likely the government would open up exploration/production so that they could cream off the profits, squirrel them away in Swiss bank accounts and spend them on buying arms to keep their population subjugated for as long as possible.

from "Human Rights Watch" http://www.hrw.org/drc had this to say about the elections in 2009.

"The human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains grave. National elections were chaotic and marred by state security forces attacking opposition candidates, journalists and ordinary citizens. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila claimed victory, but election monitors said the results lacked credibility. Attempts to protest were brutally suppressed, and the main opposition candidate was put under nominal house arrest. In the east, the military and armed groups continue attacks on civilians, including rape and killings. A few perpetrators were prosecuted, but Bosco Ntaganda, an army general wanted by the International Criminal Court, remains free while his forces continue to commit atrocities."

There are always two sides to this and one can argue that without western investment the plight of the ordinary DRC citizen will never improve. However I've never been very comfortable with Soco operating in this region as there is no doubt that to succeed they would have to "cosy up" to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso a psudo elected dictator.

From an investment perspective it is also politically very difficult to make money when the chance of the assets being expropriated in such a politically difficult country is very real.

To be honest I don't attach much value to Soco's DRC adventure and hope they don't waste too much more on it.


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WeeEck 24th Sep '12 279 of 446

We (the 1st world countries) have been trading profitably with the rulers of these countries for hundreds of years. First it was slaves, then ivory, and now it is natural resources. I am afraid that when money and profits are concerned morality gets thrown out of the window. I don't see that changing anytime soon. I can'y say I am comfortable with it but I can live with it. If anyone feels they can't then they should look for more ethical investments whatever they are these days.!

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djpreston 25th Sep '12 280 of 446

Seems as we (SIA) have had to stop activities in Congo:

from DJNW:

KAMPALA-Renewed fighting between Congolese rebels and government forces has forced U.K.-based wildcatter Soco International PLC (SIA.LN) to evacuate workers from its oil exploration camp in the country's restive eastern region to a site across the border, Ugandan police and the company said Tuesday.

Soco has started moving equipment and expatriate workers from areas around the Virunga National Park in North Kivu to the Ugandan border district of Kanungu, said Western Uganda police spokesman Elly Maate.

A Soco spokesman confirmed that the company has suspended its exploration work in Congo, but said the halt was "temporary" pending a final assessment of the situation. He said its main helicopter landing site has also been re-located to Uganda, from where Soco will continue to monitor events.

"SOCO is assessing the security status on a continual basis. The safety of SOCO's personnel is of paramount importance and, therefore, they'll only proceed when it is safe to do so," said SOCO Executive Vice President Roger Cagle.

The company's decision underscores a worsening security situation in North Kivu, where Congo's ill-equipped army is attempting to halt a rebel advance. The most recent fighting which erupted in April, after renegade former army General Bosco Ntaganda defected with hundreds of troops has already chocked mineral exports from North Kivu.

Soco operates an 800-square kilometer oil block in Eastern Congo, within the Lake Albertine Rift basin. Oil exploration companies have discovered more than 2 billion barrels of crude on the Ugandan side of Lake Albert and companies like Soco are hoping to make similar finds on the Congolese half of the basin.

According to Peter Lokeris, Uganda's junior energy minister, Uganda is bound by the 2007 agreement with Congo to cooperate with oil companies on the Congolese side of the border and "accord them the necessary assistance".

"The existing agreement provides that we cooperate in the exploitation and management of cross-border hydro carbons" Mr. Lokeris said.

While Uganda has made significant strides in its oil exploration activities in the basin, similar activities on the Congolese side continue to be impeded by insecurity.

Soco's other exploration projects in Africa are in the Congo Republic and Angola. The company also has an oil producing project in Vietnam, producing an average of 50,000 barrels of oil a day.

Last month, Soco said that it plans to spend up to $25 million buying oil assets in Africa.

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emptyend 25th Sep '12 281 of 446

In reply to djpreston, post #280

Yup - I was about to post a link, now that it has been picked up by Rigzone. I'm a bit surprised that they have a material ground presence TBH, given where the exploration programme stands at present.

Not good news for the local people either.

ps some background stuff here and here  - at least 1,000 locals have fled across the border too

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peterg 25th Sep '12 282 of 446

In reply to emptyend, post #281

Though the immediate impact on Soco's program in the DRC is probably limited (if not very limited), the clear demonstration that security in the area is an ongoing issue does have to be a concern, possibly a large one, for the future. Were things ever get to the stage of having a drilling program on the ground I would think that there would have to be pretty clear evidence of long term stabilisation before anything like that could be considered. So this must impact on the project, even if most would currently assign no value to it.

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emptyend 26th Sep '12 283 of 446

In reply to peterg, post #282

The security issue is the one that will dominate - though it is likely to remain quite fluid and capable of quite a bit of change over a few years. It is correct of course that there must be an impact on the project - though the recent stake acquisition suggests single-figure millions in terms of value at most.

However, I was interested yesterday to note (in the FT's pullout on Rwanda) that gas extraction appears to be going ahead on Lake Kivu, which is the next lake to the south (and closer to the gorilla habitat, incidentally). This suggests that there should be a resolution available to the environmental/Virunga concerns - and if the local populace (including the M23 guerillas) can be brought along then one can see the potential for some progress on a 5 year view. In fact, if you look at the descriptions of the Lake Kivu project (which deals with dissolved methane), you'll see that the environmental concerns would seem to be substantially more significant than would occur with any work around Lake Edward!

It is also worth noting that the UK Foreign Office have reportedly been telling SOCO what the company already knows and agrees with:

"We have informed Soco and urge the government of DR Congo to fully respect the international conventions to which it is signatory," a foreign office spokesperson said in a statement seen by Reuters.

"Foreign investments in sectors such as hydrocarbons ... can play a vital role in boosting development of the DRC ... Such investment needs to be done responsibly and sustainably, in compliance with local law and conforming to international standards," the statement said.

...but no doubt those less familiar with the situation will seek to read more into it.

Its the security issue that dominates.

......and of course none of this impacts at all on where the real value of the company lies. Africa could be written off in its entirety and the shares would still be worth much more than the current market value (as the upcoming reserves assessment will show).


ps....misleading headline in Upstream - there is nothing in the UK Government's comments that justifies the headline that the Governemnt opposes SOCO's plans - especially given the quote in the body of the article.

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kenobi 3rd Oct '12 284 of 446


I hope that there is a shed full of oil there, because the amount of stick that poor old soco has had for this area huge!

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emptyend 3rd Oct '12 285 of 446

In reply to kenobi, post #284

Thats the internet for you - one half-arsed story and it just keeps going round and round with little embellishments being added by do-gooders who blog before engaging their brains or finding out the facts.

It is disappointing that the WWF has been particularly prone to mendaciousness and, although they have finally noticed (it seems) that there is no actual threat to the gorillas, they still can't stop mentioning them and just can't resist having a cuddly baby gorilla photo in the top right and finishing off with an unjustifiable implied threat:

The areas of Virunga National Park allocated as oil concessions cover around 85 per cent of its land, and the habitats of endangered chimpanzees, hippos, and forest elephants. The park is also home to a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, of which only 786 individuals remain. The gorillas are a major source of eco-tourism income in the region.

......and they completely omit the point that SOCO have repeatedly said that they are going nowhere near the mountain gorillas which, in any event, inhabit  the part of Virunga that lies outside the block.

I also note they say:

“Many people in the area have incomes and live thanks to the fish from Lake Edward and we fear that petrol will bring pollution and more conflict in our region,” said community leader Bantu Lukambo during a June protest against SOCO’s relentless push into the park.

Community activists opposing SOCO’s activities in Virunga National Park have reported receiving death threats; the company has denied any involvement.

Total hogwash, I'd think, given the lie about "relentless push"......

As you say though kenobi, I hope there is a load of oil there - not that we'll be around to see any of it.

ps...I'm cancelling my support for WWF

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emptyend 9th Jan '13 286 of 446

FWIW the rebels in East DRC are reported to have declared a ceasefire. Perhaps there will finally be a chance to do the aeromag survey on block V?

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