British Oil Company Soco Says No Longer Holds Congo Block Permit


KINSHASA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - British oil firm Soco International said on Tuesday it no longer holds the exploration licence for a block in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where it ceased operations last year amid environmental and human rights protests.

Soco conducted seismic testing last year on Block V, about half of which lies within the Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest national park and home to the endangered mountain gorilla.

The controversy surrounding oil exploration in the park was the subject of last year's Oscar-nominated documentary film "Virunga".

"Soco has ceased to hold the Block V licence," the company said in a single-sentence statement on its website.

A spokesman for the company said in an email that Soco had decided not to renew its licence at the end of its contract with the Congolese government.

The chief of staff to Congo's oil minister told Reuters he was unaware of any change in the block's status.

(Reporting By Aaron Ross; Editing by Joe Bavier and Greg Mahlich)


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