Congo Kinshasa has officially launched a licence round, offering 30 blocks to interested parties, in the face of opposition from environmentalists.
Minister of Hydrocarbons Didier Budimbu launched the offering today in Kinshasa.
“We are one of the potentially oil and gas rich countries in the world, our 3 sedimentary basins are among the largest,” Budimbu said.
The ministry has said the country may hold 22 billion barrels of oil and 66bn barrels of oil equivalent in gas. This could put the country “at the forefront of major oil and gas producers in a unique operating environment”.
Expressions of interest are due by January 31, 2023. The bid round will close on April 30, 2023, and awards will be made on June 30.
Xcalibur Multiphysics is providing support for the round. The ministry aims to drum up interest from companies through exhibitions in a number of international conferences.
The offering covers 11 blocks in the Tanganyika Graben, nine in the Central Basin, four in the Albertine Graben, three in the Coastal Basin and three in the Lake Kivu.
The last three are gas prone. Methane and CO2 saturate Lake Kivu’s waters. Any interested companies will have to explain how they will operate in these challenging waters.
Congo Kinshasa had previously set out plans to offer 16 blocks. However, with higher energy prices and new interest in the sector, it boosted the number to 30 earlier this month.
Greenpeace Africa has been particularly critical of the Congolese plans. The group submitted a petition with 100,000 signatures to President Félix Tshisekedi calling for no new developments.
Kinshasa “wants to sacrifice vast areas of Congo rainforest and peatland for oil. This would be an unmitigated disaster for the climate, biodiversity and local people,” the NGO said.
It is not clear which companies will bid. A Twitter post in May from the Ministry of Hydrocarbons named TotalEnergies and Chevron, in addition to the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO).
APPO Secretary General Omar Farouk, in a video this week, defended African production of oil and gas. “Africa is not against climate change initiatives”, he said. “But what we are saying is that the timing and the speed with which we are being cajoled to accept the energy transition is not in the interests of ourselves, our children or our grandchildren.”