Seismic tests have confirmed presence of oil in Africa’s oldest wildlife reserve, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congolese government said on Friday that tests carried out by British Oil Company Soco gave “Positive” feedback on the presence of oil deposits. According to AFP, Minister of Hydrocarbons Aime Ngoy Mukena said there was an oil field underneath the park but didn’t give further details.
The park, a UNESCO world heritage site, covers at least 7800 square kilometres of lush forest, glaciated peaks and savannah in the eastern province of North Kivu. It is home to the famous mountain gorillas. It was reopened to tourists last year after a two year closure due to militia violence in the region.
Exploration for oil in the park is ‘incompatible’ with its heritage status as warned by UNSCO severally.
The government of Congo has promoted prospecting for oil in Virunga in the past to generate revenue for the impoverished country. The government awarded several oil concessions in 2010 but suspended the permits after a domestic and international outcry.