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Vol 51 No 8

Published 16th April 2010


Le scandale pétrolier

The country now produces a paltry 25,000 barrels a day but the big international oil companies are lining up to buy their way into Congo-Kinshasa. Smaller companies have been locked in wrangles with each other and successive Kinshasa officials for several years. New blocks are likely to be offered in a licensing round that will open up new parts of Congo to exploration; competition for disputed blocks is heating up. But will the oil boom boost economic development or just repeat the confusion and corruption of the mining sector?

President Joseph Kabila is blocking exploration contracts that were granted several years ago and the lack of his approval has left several companies hanging on in Kinshasa, hoping he will sign soon. He may be getting ready to. A new oil code, which is being debated in the National Assembly, would open up blocks freshly apportioned in Lake Tanganyika and gas blocks in Lake Kivu for bids in a new licensing round expected this month. Congo has lagged behind its neighbour Uganda, with which it shares Lake Albert, and that is one reason why it is preparing to take on oil exploration in earnest.

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