President H.E. Felix Tshisekedi Launches the DRC’s 30-Block Licensing Round
In an exciting move for the African oil and gas industry, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has officially launched its highly anticipated bid licensing round. Opened by H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC. The round has 30 blocks on offer – 27 of which are oil and three are gas - positioning the country as one of the most attractive frontier hydrocarbon markets in 2022 and beyond. Launched ahead of the continent’s premier event for the oil and gas industry, African Energy Week (AEW) 2022 – taking place October 18-21 in Cape Town – the bid round is set to create an influx in foreign investment to the DRC, triggering newfound socioeconomic growth.
Present at the launch were H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea and H.E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers Organization. While 16 blocks were initially on offer, in response to rising global demand and the need for more oil and gas in Africa, H.E. Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the DRC, doubled the blocks on offer earlier this month. Among the blocks, three are located in the coastal basin of the Kongo Central province while nine are located in Cuvette Centrale,11 close to Lake Tanganyika and four near Lake Albert –where sizable discoveries have already been made on the Ugandan side of the prospect. The three blocks open for gas exploration are located in Lake Kivu. With an estimated reserve potential of five billion barrels of oil and 30 billion cubic meters of gas, the round makes good on the government’s promise to reawaken the DRC oil and gas market.
Speaking at the launch, H.E. President Tshisekedi emphasized the government’s commitment to fast tracking hydrocarbon developments, targeting first oil from the new blocks in the earliest time frame possible, while maintaining environmental obligations and protection. With discussions officially open for the round, the government is committed to working with sustainable investors, ensuring exploration and production is achieved without the risk of environmental disruption. For the country, both developing oil and gas and protecting the environment goes hand in hand, and led by H.E. President Tshisekedi, the government has placed both objectives at the center of the country’s developmental agenda.
“The DRC is by no means reneging on any of its international obligations towards the environment with our push to explore hydrocarbons. On the contrary, we are more than ever committed to meeting these goals, while at the same time ensuring that our nation can benefit from our hydrocarbon’s potential,” H.E. President Tshisekedi stated.
In addition to unlocking new investment and international participation in DRC oil and gas, the round will drive investments across the energy value chain, kickstarting a new era of energy access in line with the government’s ambition to make energy poverty history. Currently, the country produces 25,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, however with the round, the government has introduced an ambitious target of increasing this figure to one million bpd within the next two decades, significantly improving energy access, security and independence.
“With 30 blocks on offer in the DRC, Africa is sure to witness a new era of investment and hydrocarbon development. While the round aligns closely with the government’s objectives of developing a competitive and mutually beneficial oil and gas industry in the DRC, it goes one step further, emphasizing the government’s commitment to protecting the environment. By ensuring the operation and development of fields is done in a low carbon manner, adhering to international environmental standards, while only working with sustainable investors and energy companies, the government has prioritized the sustainable development of its energy sector,” states Verner Ayukegba, SVP of the African Energy Chamber, adding that, “This is what AEW 2022 is all about. The sustainable developments of Africa’s oil and gas reserves. If we are going to make energy poverty history by 2030, we need to develop and use our oil and gas.”
During AEW 2022, a DRC delegation led by H.E. Minister Ntubuanga will not only be driving discussions around Africa’s upstream landscape, but will be providing critical insight into the DRC’s licensing round, holding technical presentations and directly engaging with potential bidders. With AEW 2022 taking place under the theme, Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment, updates on the DRC’s licensing round and insight from H.E. Minister Ntubuanga will be key, as the continent looks to create a new narrative around developing oil and gas in an environmentally sustainable manner.
AEW 2022 is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2022 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments. Key organizations such as Afreximbank, the African Petroleum Producers Organization, as well as African heavyweights including Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, have partnered with AEW, strengthening the role the event will play in Africa’s energy future.