|Impacts of oil exploration in an area of the Virunga National Park in the DRC|
|Lead NCP||United Kingdom|
|Supporting NCP(s)||None Selected|
|Description||Specific instance notified by the NGO WWF International regarding the activities of SOCO International PLC operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo.|
|Theme(s)||Environment, General policies, Human rights|
|Date||7 Oct 2013|
|Host country(ies)||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Industry sector||Mining and quarrying|
Read the initial assessment issued by the UK NCP - February 2014
Read the final statement issued by the UK NCP concluding the specific instance - 15 July 2014
In October 2013, the UK NCP received a request for review from the NGO WWF International alleging that SOCO International PLC had breached the general policies, human rights, and environment provisions of the Guidelines by its oil exploration in an area of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). More specifically, the NGO alleged that oil exploration was in conflict with international agreements – particularly regarding the Park’s status as a World Heritage site – and DRC law and posed risks to the local environment and local communities dependent upon the surrounding ecosystem. SOCO, while denying the allegations, welcomed constructive dialogue with WWF. SOCO stated that its activities were still limited to environmental and social studies and social programmes, including a seismic survey on behalf of the DRC government, rather than actual oil exploration.
Upon completing the initial assessment in February 2014, the UK NCP found that SOCO had not met several obligations as outlined by the environmental provisions of the Guidelines. Further, the NCP determined dialogue regarding the level of SOCO’s human rights due diligence appropriate to the context of conflict-affected DRC would be worthwhile, as well as the extent to which SOCO informs stakeholders about the results of its environmental impact assessment.