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DRC plans to offer 19 onshore exploration blocks in late 2021: minster

Highlights

Oil laws, civil conflict have hampered exploration efforts

Perenco is the only firm currently producing oil in DRC

Kampala — The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning to offer 19 onshore oil and gas blocks in the fourth quarter of this year in its first ever open tender since the country adopted a new petroleum law in 2015, Rubens Muhima, the minister for energy and hydrocarbons said Feb 12.

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Nine of the blocks are located in the country's Central Basin, three in the onshore Coastal Basin, four in the Lake Tanganyika Basin and three in Lake Kivu, the minister said.

"We are putting together the data for these blocks which have proven to be lucrative after major finds in neighboring exploration areas," Muhima told S&P Global Platts.

DRC currently produces around 25,000 b/d but exploration has been scarce in recent years due to the lack of a new petroleum law and civil conflicts, which has limited international oil companies from entering the country.

The round was initially planned for 2019 but delayed by President Felix Tshisekedi's slow pace in forming a new government, which was only formed last week.

DRC is opening the tender at a time when the oil industry is becoming bright again, with rising global crude prices after the discovery of a new vaccine.

Global crude prices recently rising back over $60/b have renewed hopes of fresh exploration in the country, he said.

The previous attempts by the DRC government to offer licenses in the Central Basin met resistance from environmentalists who objected to exploration inside the cultural heritage sites.

France's Total last year secured an extension of an exploration license for an area near the eastern border with Uganda, where it is planning to develop the Lake Albert oil finds. Another French company, Perenco, is the only firm currently producing oil in DRC.