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Parliamentary questions
8 May 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Ivo Belet (PPE)

 Subject: Oil exploration in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

It has emerged recently that a consortium of oil companies, including SOCO International, had received permits from the Congolese Ministry of the Environment to carry out exploration in Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, the extraction of oil in that area would pose a serious threat to the precious fauna and flora in the natural park.

Virunga National Park is one of the most important nature reserves in central Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered animal species, including a population of rare mountain gorillas. In 1979, Unesco designated Virunga Park a World Heritage Site.

Oil extraction in the national park would contravene international agreements, including those signed by Unesco, as well as Congolese legislation. Early last year, Congolese Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito together with Unesco representatives signed a declaration according to which the Congolese Government was going to commit itself to the protection of Virunga Park. The Prime Minister also promised not to allow any oil exploration until the completion, by the end of 2012, of a strategic environmental assessment, which is being financed by the European Union.

Despite these agreements, and despite the fact that the European Commission has in the past — as evident from its answer to Written Question E‑001691/2011 — expressed serious concern about possible oil exploration campaigns in the natural park, the Congolese government has still issued a permit to the oil companies to carry out exploration activities.

What action is the Commission planning in connection with the exploration activities in Virunga Park in the DRC?

Does the Commission feel it is possible to grant aid to the DRC from the international climate funds in exchange for the abandonment of oil exploration in the national park?

Original language of question: NLOJ C 248 E, 29/08/2013
Dernière mise à jour: 23 mai 2012Avis juridique