Kinshasa, 11 November 2022 – The harmful operations of Perenco S.A, France’s second largest oil company and the only oil operator in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were in the spotlight of a report by Investigate Europe, Disclose and EIT (Environmental Investigative Forum). The company is now summoned to the French court this Wednesday, November 9, by two associations “Friends of the Earth France” and “Sherpa”, because of the ecological damage caused by the group’s oil activities in Muanda, in the province of Kongo-Central in the DRC.
“The multinational oil company has been implicated for years in numerous reports, investigations and interpellations by the Congolese Senate, local associations and international NGOs for serious damage to the environment and to the health of the population in the coastal region of Muanda, in the west of the DRC,” say the two environmental protection associations.
The oil exploitation of the Perenco S.A. group takes place in the region that offers the only access of the country to the Atlantic Ocean, hosting the mouth of the Congo River. This area is composed of unique ecosystems and is home to a rich biodiversity. It also includes part of the Mangrove Marine Park nature reserve.
According to several scientific studies and reports made public, the oil exploitation methods of the Perenco group would be at the origin of 167 cases of pollution that would affect all the constituent elements of the environment of Muanda (species, air, soil, surface and groundwater), reportedly causing premature deaths and severe health problems for local communities.
“Perenco’s legal troubles are a reminder that there is no clean and safe way to drill oil, to burn it or to transport it,” said Irene Wabiwa, International lead of the Greenpeace Congo basin forest campaign. “Even the technologies used by France’s 2nd largest oil company have brought devastating consequences for the Congolese communities and the nature we depend on.”
The DRC has launched tenders for 27 oil blocks, including areas of tropical forests and peatlands, and 3 gas blocks. The tenders followed the signing of a $500 million forestry agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) donor group at COP26 last year, which authorized new oil and gas activities in the rainforest.
«The findings on Perenco are damning not only for the oil company, but for the Congolese government. We have a government that reads incriminating reports by the Congolese Senate and Lubumbashi University on Perenco and says “give us more of this,”” added Irene Wabiwa “The legal case against Perenco should inspire the Congolese government to take a U-turn on fossil fuels and help keep oil companies out of our country.”»
Raphaël Mavambu, Media and Communications, Greenpeace Africa, [email protected]