POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

People in Congo against oil: We'll keep our forests, you keep your dollars

Christian Fernsby |
The giant oil and gas auction launched in July 2022 by the Democratic Republic of Congo was done without the knowledge - much less consent - of local communities, who vow to resist it.

Article continues below




A report by Greenpeace Africa, 350 Africa.org, Rainforest Rescue, and the Congolese NGOs Dynamique Pole, Innovation pour le développement et la protection de l'environnement (IDPE), Youth Movement for the Protection of the Environment (MJPE) and Réseau des éducateurs du développement durable (REDD) details these findings as the DRC prepares to host the PreCOP27 climate conference in Kinshasa in three days.

"This report demonstrates how the DRC oil and gas auction not only threatens the global climate and biodiversity, but exposes Congolese people to the disease, conflict, poverty, and corruption that inevitably come with the curse of oil," said Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa's International Project Lead for the Congo Basin forest.

On the 28th of July 2022, the DRC launched an auction of 30 oil and gas blocks, covering a gigantic 277,954 square kilometres, an area larger than the whole of Ghana or the United Kingdom. Three of these overlap peatlands and at least 13 overlap protected areas, including Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The report is a first effort to present the view of some of the local communities living on auctioned lands, and likely to suffer the most direct consequences of potential oil exploration and subsequent drilling.

"The government is neglecting its own people. It acts as if these forests were empty, that they're without villages, without animals, it's heartbreaking," a resident of the village of Lukolela told us. Others repeatedly declared: "(if this is) something for the good of the population, (it) would not have been done in secret." For their security, full names and locations of people interviewed will not be disclosed.

On the eve of the auction, Greenpeace Africa conducted two field missions to dozens of communities in four prospective oil blocks covering about 100,000 square kilometres, equal to about 1,000 times the size of Paris.

None of the villages visited in Equateur and Tshuapa provinces, where oil blocks 22, 4 and 4b are located, dispose of clean drinking water - all of them relying instead on five local rivers. The report estimates that more than one million people in the zone could be impacted by oil pollution and ensuing waterborne diseases. Pollution would also threaten food security in this poor region, where the capital city Mbandaka and other towns and villages rely on agricultural produce from the communities at risk.

In Haut Lomami province, 21 communities were visited across the designated Upemba oil block, overlapping much of Upemba National Park. At least 150,000 local fishermen, as well as thousands of farmers growing rice and other crops, currently live in relative comfort, earning up to one million Congolese francs (USD 500) per month. Their livelihoods would be devastated by oil exploration and drilling.

Upon learning of plans to explore and drill for oil, the local population expressed fear of disease, famine, and pollution, as well as displacement from villages established on their ancestral lands: "The government project is not the model of economic activity compatible with our environment. It is harmful to us who live here and everything around us. We breathe fresh air, we live in a healthy environment - why destroy all this and our fish?" asked a local community leader.

Locals also fear becoming "slaves" and the emergence of new social conflicts once oil exploration begins: "As our ancestors experienced, the creation of Upemba Park disrupted our way of life with restrictions on access and activities. We are not ready to welcome an oil company," said another community member.

The report also highlights risks of increased corruption and rent-seeking at the national level: "The haste to deliver all oil and gas blocks might be an attempt to monopolise financial resources in the twilight of this government in the pre-election period," said Bantu Lukambo, director of IDPE. "Civil society will resist feeding networks of corruption at the expense of Congolese people in this sensitive period."

Aside from being a climate, biodiversity, health and rule-of-law catastrophe in the making, the legal mandate for authorising auction of 30 oil and gas blocks by the government remains unclear and dubious. The report indicates that nearly half of the blocks appear to be auctioned without following the official tendering procedure. The auction may also be non-compliant with the DRC's 2011 Environment law, 2014 Nature Conservation law and 2015 Hydrocarbons law.

Contacted on this subject, Mr. Budimbu indicates that "it was inadvertent" that the Council of Ministers had only discussed 16 instead of 30 oil and gas blocks.

The report calls on the DRC government to immediately cancel its plans for oil and gas, and to promote alternative investments in renewable energies, in order to end the energy poverty from which 72 million Congolese suffer.

Donor countries, whose COP26 forest protection agreement with DRC greenlights oil and gas activity across the rainforest, protected areas and peatlands, are urged to work with the Congolese government on alternatives to oil and gas activity and to condemn the latter's impacts on human rights, the rule of law and the environment.

Finally, financial institutions considering supporting oil and gas development in DRC will find ample evidence in this report that basic standards have been violated, namely the need to obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of potentially affected communities.


What to read next

Uganda-Congo border at standstill over traders anger
Congo Congo bridge construction work to begin in 2023
New riverbed fibre joins Congo to Central African Republic

Apollo Endosurgery to be acquired by Boston Scientific, enterprise value $615 million

 
Apollo Endosurgery announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Boston Scientific in an all-cash transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $615 million.
 
 

Latest

Poland: Criminal group extorted money making advantage of COVID situation
Sibanye-Stillwater begins construction of lithium hydroxide refinery in Finland
Switzerland's GDP grew by 0.2% in Q3 of 2022
Mexico's exports grow 19.5 pct

NEWS

UK: Christmas chaos ahead as Wiltshire parking wardens announce further strikes

Italy: 8 dead, several still missing after deadly Ischia mudslide
South Korea issues return-to-work order to truckers on strike
U.S.: Winter weather conditions for west, severe weather potential for south on Tuesday
World's largest volcano Mauna Loa erupts
WHO renames monkeypox as mpox on racism ground
 

BUSINESS

One in four U.S. workers still fear catching COVID at work, modest winter surge expected

No vessels left Ukrainian ports on November 28 due to adverse weather
Swedish nuclear reactor to be taken off-grid for repairs
UN and ILO must urgently intervene as South Korea weighs forcing striking drivers back to work, says ITF
More internationally educated family doctors on the way to British Columbia
Department of Health in South Africa to conduct feasibility study on implementing solar panels in hospitals
 

Trending Now

One in four U.S. workers still fear catching COVID at work, modest winter surge expected

Sibanye-Stillwater begins construction of lithium hydroxide refinery in Finland

Commission approves €557 million German support to compensate Deutsche Bahn

Apollo Endosurgery to be acquired by Boston Scientific, enterprise value $615 million


POLITICS

Tánaiste announces major change for small Irish companies

Commission approves €557 million German support to compensate Deutsche Bahn
Belgian government offers one-off tax-free bonus
Health minister discusses cooperation with French companies for manufacturing in Libya
Saudi Arabia unveils masterplan for mega Riyadh airport project
EU Parliament insists that EU must freeze funding to Hungary
 

Today We Recommend

One in four U.S. workers still fear catching COVID at work, modest winter surge expected


Highlights 

Apollo Endosurgery to be acquired by Boston Scientific, enterprise value $615 million

AstraZeneca to acquire Neogene Therapeutics for up to $320 mln

Shell to buy Nature Energy in £1.7bn deal


COMPANIES

Bechtel to build Intel's semiconductor manufacturing facilities in Ohio

Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals enters antibody agreement with ADC Therapeutics
BT announces plan for pay rise of up to 16% for all but highest paid
AstraZeneca to acquire Neogene Therapeutics for up to $320 mln
Shell to buy Nature Energy in £1.7bn deal
Africa Data Centres to build its first data centre in Kigali, Rwanda
 

CAREERS

US Foods appoints Dave Flitman as CEO

G Mining Ventures appoints Carlos Vilhena to board
Criterium Energy appoints David Dunlop as director
Arthex Biotech appoints Frédéric Legros as chairman
Promontory Therapeutics appoints Stanley J. Musial as CFO
1NCE expands leadership team in Europe and Asia-Pacific
 

ECONOMY

Trade between Bulgaria, North Macedonia to exceed EUR 1 Bln in 2022

EU trade with Indo-Pacific region
EU green energy product imports in 2021: 15.2 billion euros
Czech Republic: Economic sentiment ticks up in November
Poland: Business sentiment ticks up in November
Italy: Business confidence strengthens in November
 

EARNINGS

Natuzzi Q3 revenue increased 14.5%

CMA CGM Q3 revenue $19.9 billion
G. Willi-Food Q3 sales increased by 16.6%
Deere Q4 net income $2.246 billion
Nordstrom Q3 net loss $20 million
VMware Q3 revenue $3.21 billion
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

Colombian minister announces short and medium-term measures to help rural producers affected by winter weather

Third stage of vaccination against classical swine fever starts in Brazilian state Alagoas
Australia's fish stocks stable and steady
Australia pledges AUD 2 million to WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism
Pesticide sales jump by 17% in Switzerland
Tesco announces close to £14 million of additional support for British egg industry
 

LEADERSHIP

Corporate duty waivers limit organic company growth and innovation

Women buy from women, men buy from women and men
How employee opinion impacts CEO dismissal
Keeping it in family can be good news when it comes to CEOs
Over a third of office workers are hybrid 'misfits'
Proxy advisers have inherent incentive to create controversy, study shows
 

CRIME

Meta Ireland fined 265 mln euros for data breach

Ukraine fines Engie, Shell subsidiaries over Nord Stream 2
New Zealand fines Southland fishing company $40,000
Italy's antitrust fines Edison Energia 3.8 mln euros over unfair practices
FTC secures monetary judgment in deceptive energy savings claims case
Croatian Competition Agency fines dairy processing company PIK Rijeka $13,740 for imposing unfair trading practices
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

Weather-resistant ArtWalk Downtown Billings, Montana

Dual branded Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott Hotel opens in Montreal
Candlewood Suites Hotel opens in Aberdeen, Md.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela, 7,671 feet above the forest floor
Llao Llao Resort, an exclusive resort in the middle of nowhere
Abu Dhabi welcomes visitors to discover experiences at their own pace
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

New colorful Porsche 718 Style Edition models

2023 Toyota Prius Prime, solar panel roof and reliability
Volvo EX90, a car with updates
Cessna Citation CJ4 Gen2 jet, pursue your business goals while enjoying journey
GMC first Sierra EV marks turning point
BMW M2, fast beast in small package
 

DESIGN

Patchwork carpets, vintage Persian carpets made with unparalleled skill

Real life wallpapers, perfectly executed
A. Lange & Söhne, men's watches with true Saxonian DNA
Nella Vetrina, luxurious Italian designers bathroom vanities and furniture
Karastan rugs, durable and beautiful
Leather bags for every occasion and every life style
 

GADGETS

Take Elektor Fortissimo and make your own high-end amplifier

RangeXTD, a Wi-Fi extender that actually works
Monitor II A.N.C. headphones, iconic Marshall sound
Zebra TC15, a clever mix of a mobile phone and a computer for business use
Bathroom speakers will make your relaxing even better
NAD 399 amplifier, highly efficient and remarkably powerful
 

HEALTH

Strong recommendation for pyronaridine-artesunate in revised WHO Malaria Treatment Guidelines

Pakistan launches anti-polio vaccination drive to inoculate 13.5 mln children
Ibuprofen and similar NSAIDS can be associated with hastened progression of osteoarthritis symptoms
Virgin Islands community encouraged to prevent antimicrobial resistance
Shionogi seeks Japan approval for COVID-19 vaccine
French doctors warn of antibiotics shortage
 

MEANTIME

Astrophysicists hunt for second-closest supermassive black hole

New European supercomputer inaugurated in Italy
European Space Agency presents new generation of astronauts
NASA selects Rocket Lab to launch TROPICS mission
World's heaviest flying bird heals itself with plants used in traditional medicine
James Webb Space Telescope reveals an exoplanet atmosphere as never seen before