Soco’s oil exploration in Virunga violates OECD guidelines
7 October 2013
We’ve filed an OECD complaint with the UK Government against British oil company Soco International plc.
In it, we allege that Soco has breached OECD guidelines that aim to protect human rights and the environment. The failures relate to Soco’s exploration for oil in and around Virunga National Park – a World Heritage Site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Allegedly, Soco has used state security forces to intimidate opponents, and has failed to disclose vital information about the impacts its exploration could have on people’s health and the environment. Soco should have made such details available before community consultations about the project.
But we’ve got hold of this information, and it shows that Soco’s operations in Virunga are putting people, animals and habitats at risk. It’s Soco’s own impact assessment, and it suggests that oil exploration could cause pollution, damage habitats and increase levels of poaching in Virunga’s fragile ecosystem. And that it could harm the health of people who live there, and damage the natural resources that 50,000 people depend on.
Virunga National Park is the most biodiverse protected area in Africa. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee says oil exploration is inconsistent with the World Heritage Convention, and has called for all oil permits in the park to be cancelled.
The OECD guidelines which are the most well respected good practice standards apply to all multinational enterprises that operate in or from the 45 countries that follow them. The UK is a founding member of the OECD.
We’re calling on Soco to commit publicly to stop all its activities within Virunga National Park – for good. We want Soco to respect the park’s current boundaries, and stay out of all World Heritage Sites.
Please help us keep oil exploration out of Africa’s oldest national park.