Virunga Park: Oil drilling rights to be auctioned in endangered rainforest

The Ministry of Hydrocarbons said in a statement that 27 oil and 3 gas blocks will be auctioned, up from the 16 blocks the country originally pledged to put up in May.

The blocks include areas that reach Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas in eastern Congo.

Didier Boudimbou, the country’s hydrocarbon minister, said on Tuesday that oil production would benefit the Congolese population.

“President Felix Tshisekedi has a vision and wants to lift his population out of poverty,” Budimbu said at a press conference.

Six Virunga park rangers killed in ambush in eastern Congo

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According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, more than 27 million people live in the DRC, including more than 3 million children who do not have enough food to feed themselves (a third of the country’s population) and more than 5 million internally displaced people. .

The petition, signed by more than 100,000 people, calls on Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to stop developing new oil and gas fields in the country, according to a Greenpeace US press release.

“Just six months after signing a $500 million forest protection agreement at COP26, the Government of the Congo is declaring war on our planet with oil and gas,” said Irene Vabiva Betoko, Congo Basin Forest International Project Manager, Greenpeace Africa. “The immediate price will be paid by the Congolese communities who are unaware of the auction, who have not been consulted and informed about the risks to their health and livelihoods. Many of them will rise up against it – and we will be with them.” .”

Budimbu rebuffed critics of the auctions, saying that non-governmental organizations cannot dictate how a sovereign country should be run.


The option we have chosen is to let the poorest people try to improve their lives at the expense of their economy, so 100,000 signatures is good, but there are Congolese who need to eat,” Budimbu said.

Virunga National Park located on the forested volcanoes of Central Africa and is home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.

Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the most biologically diverse protected area in Africa.

It is made up of carbon-rich peatlands and primary forests that, when cleared, release massive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, contributing to the climate crisis. Deforestation also removes an important “sponge” that absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere.

The expansion of oil drilling permits is one of a growing number of examples of increased exploration and use of fossil fuels in the face of the global energy crisis.

The auction is scheduled for July 28 and 29.

Angela Dewan of CNN contributed to this report.