South Africa, July 23, 2019: Greenpeace Africa calls for the cancellation of all oil blocks in the carbon-rich rainforest of the Republic of the Congo. 58% of the country’s peat swamp forests has already been opened up for prospection and exploration to oil and gas companies, including Total and Eni. A call for tender closing today could result in the handout of five more oil blocks, including nearly 18,000 km² of peatland [1].

“Peatlands are one of the world’s most carbon-rich ecosystems. Degrading them would result in massive CO₂ emissions. The handout of these oil blocks amounts to a declaration of war on the planet by the government of The Republic of Congo and the oil industry,” said Dr. Victorine Che Thoener, project leader for Greenpeace Africa’s Congo Basin forest campaign.

In 2017, University of Leeds researchers mapped the Cuvette Centrale peatlands straddling the two Congos and found that they constitute the world’s largest tropical peatland complex, covering 145,500 km² and containing 30.6 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to more than three years of global CO₂ emissions [2].

“Oil exploration in the rainforest causes deforestation, toxic contamination, violence and corruption, and aggravates the global climate crisis,” adds Dr. Che Thoener. “Drilling into this carbon bomb in Congo’s peatlands would be madness. Oil multinationals must respect the science and stay out of the peatlands.” 

While the bidders participating in the call for tenders closing today are still unknown, five Cuvette Centrale oil blocks have already been held for several years by four companies, including oil and gas giants Total and Eni. Four of these blocks include peatlands [3]. “Total, Eni, and other oil and gas corporations will be doing irreparable and unforgivable damage to this and future generations, if they go ahead with oil exploration in Congo’s rainforest,” Dr. Che Thoener concluded.

ENDS

 

Contact :

Tal Harris, International Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Africa, +221 776 73 04 96, tal.harris@greenpeace.org

 

Dr. Victorine CheThoener, Project Leader Congo Basin , Forest Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Africa, +49 157 79 59 89 83,victorine.chethoener@greenpeace.org

 

[1] Ministry of Hydrocarbons, Congo Licence Round Phase II 2018-2019: https://www.congolr2018.com

 

[2] Dargie G., Lewis S., et al. (2017). “Age, extent and carbon storage of the central Congo Basin peatland complex”, Nature, 542: 86–90

 

[3] One of Total’s covers the totality of Noubalé Ndoki National Park, managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and is part of the Sangha Trinational Unesco World Heritage Site: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/07/congolese-government-opens-nouabale-ndoki-national-park-to-oil-exploration/