Increased risk to shareholders over Soco’s controversial exploration plans in Virunga
Soco’s oil exploration in Virunga National Park, eastern DRC, is coming under increased scrutiny. There is further exposure to risk from these activities in Africa’s first national park especially given the environmental and social sensitivities involved in operating in a World Heritage Site.
The preliminary results announcement comes just two weeks after the UK government’s national contact point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises said it plans to examine Soco’s activities over alleged violations of environmental protections and human rights abuses following a complaint by WWF. Additionally, UNESCO has called for the cancellation of oil permits in Virunga.
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said: “Investors are understandably sensitive to their exposure to future levels of risk, and I would expect many to regard Soco’s plans in Virunga with caution. The initial stages of exploration for oil are only just starting, but it’s clear that Soco is already experiencing problems such as local community protests and the ongoing complaint WWF has filed under the OECD guidelines.
“Unfortunately, as yet, the company appears to have adopted the approach of ‘carry on regardless,’ which could threaten investor returns, as well as Virunga’s enormous environmental value.”