LONDON, May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
SOCO International plc ("SOCO" or "the Company")
SOCO has now reviewed the film entitled 'Virunga' which was produced by North Kivu Film Productions Ltd and makes the following comments:
The film misrepresents the scope and location of the Company's activities in Block V, does not accurately portray the Company's track record to date of responsible operating, and does not reflect that responsible local involvement is core to SOCO's activities in the DRC.
It is important to note that the film has been produced by one of the Company's detractors and is, therefore, not what SOCO considers an objective portrayal of the facts surrounding SOCO's operations. SOCO has sought legal advice considering the scale of the allegations.
Ethical conduct, in public and in private, is important to SOCO and is at the heart of our values. SOCO condemns all forms of corruption, especially when associated with its employees or subcontractors. SOCO operates under a strict Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Any reported breach will always be investigated to the fullest extent possible and will lead to immediate disciplinary action if substantiated.
It is emphasised that Block V is not located within the mountainous Mikeno Sector, home to the famous Mountain Gorillas. Furthermore, SOCO has stated it will never seek to have operations in the Mountain Gorilla habitat, the Virunga Volcanoes or the Virunga equatorial rainforest. SOCO's activities are focussed on Lake Edward, which is over 100 km from Rumangabo and Goma which feature heavily in the film.
Following the ceasefire a year ago, SOCO has begun its social investment projects, environmental studies and a seismic survey on Lake Edward. SOCO continues to receive reports of local community support.
SOCO's seismic survey, which began earlier this month, represents the Company's final operational activity onsite Block V under its current work programme. No drilling has been planned or is warranted at this stage.
SOCO stresses that all of the Company's activities within the Virunga National Park, taking place between 2012 and 2014 to date, have been authorised by ICCN - the Virunga Park rangers/warden's organisation which manages the Virunga National Park. The park authorities are authorised under national Congolese law to permit certain activities, including a seismic survey. Copies of the permits are provided on http://www.socointernational.com.
SOCO management was given no opportunity throughout the film's two year production to provide its side of the story, the facts or the situation on the ground. The Company believes this illustrates a lack of balance on the part of the film's producers. SOCO fully appreciates and supports a public debate on the compatibility of conservation and economic development. However, the benefit of such debate becomes limited when only one side of the debate is presented, such as in the aforementioned film.
SOCO is dedicated to supporting local communities. In 2013, the Company committed almost $1 million in social programmes for communities around Lake Edward and the Virunga National Park.
SOCO is dedicated to supporting conservation by ensuring that the Company's operations are managed responsibly and sustainably.
SOCO's approach continues to be one of openness and transparency, and SOCO welcomes dialogue with all its stakeholders.
The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and its government wishes to lift its people out of the poverty and aftermath of insurgency that has left the country, and swathes of Virunga National Park, so impaired. As a recent arrival, SOCO is working with the DRC Government and local communities, entirely responsibly, towards that ambition.
Foreign entities intervening in espousing high ideals of conservation owe the DRC, and indeed, SOCO and global audiences, a duty to be balanced, honest and transparent in statements, communications and media. In the case of North Kivu Films Production Ltd, they have not shown the Government this respect and no engagement has been made by it with the DRC Government over the past two years of preparation and filming.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- SOCO is an international oil and gas exploration and Production Company, headquartered in London, traded on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The Company has interests in Vietnam, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Angola.
- SOCO gained an interest in the Albertine Graben, in eastern DRC, when it was awarded the Block V licence in June 2006 by the Government of the DRC. This award was ratified by a DRC presidential decree in 2010. Block V is an area of approx. 7,500 km2 on the border with Uganda; within Block V, SOCO's specific area of interest is Lake Edward (approx 1,630 km2) and the adjacent lowland savannah which are both within the Virunga National Park.
- SOCO's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, implemented through our HSES Management System, sets out our values of honesty and fairness and promoting trust amongst those with whom we work, including the protection of human rights and respect for the indigenous rights and cultures of the communities within our host countries. We adopt the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights implemented through our Security Policy and supporting procedures. Further policy and commitment statements relating to human rights can be viewed on our website, http://www.socointernational.com.
SOURCE SOCO International