Stop Drilling for Oil in National Parks

Target: Rui se Sousa, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of SOCO International Plc

Goal: Stop all attempts of drilling in and around the Virunga National Park

An oil company by the name of SOCO International Plc is looking to illegally drill in a national park. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to countless endangered species, and is Africa’s oldest national park. If this oil company is allowed to explore and exploit the land of Virunga for oil it will prove to be devastating to the people and animals that call the national park home. SOCO International Plc, or any oil and gas company, must not be allowed to set foot on any national park land.

Activities harmful to the environment are prohibited in protected areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR of Congo). The oil and gas company allegedly bribed the president of the DR of Congo to allow drilling in Virunga National Park. Representatives from SOCO International Plc have made it clear that the company is addressing all possible environmental issues that drilling may cause in the area, and it expects to be extremely careful and not interfere with endangered wildlife. This is an optimistic remark, though unfortunately it is an impossible promise. Any presence, especially that of oil drilling capacity, is disruptive to wildlife and indigenous people.

The people that live around the Virunga National Park rely on it to sustain their livelihoods and families; 30,000 people consume healthy fish that are found in the park’s waters and tourism is abundant due to the mountain gorillas that inhabit the area. If an oil spill or mishap were to happen the waterways would be negatively affected and the fish populations would be compromised. Drilling in this area would also hurt the areas endangered animals, forcing them to cope with an ecosystem changed by oil drilling.

Virunga National Park is the most diverse park in Africa: its precious landscape should not be interfered with. The history of oil drilling has shown how damaging it is to local environments: if there is a spill it is impossible to fully restore the land to what it once was, and the landscape is forever changed by western involvement and monstrous machinery. The world needs to move away from its obsession with oil; ravaging every bit of earth until the last drop is gone is not the answer. SOCO International Plc states that it has good intentions for drilling, though its intentions do not matter. If a spill happens, or the ecosystem is damaged, the company will apologize but will be ill equipped to fully solve the issue, as is always the case no matter the research done prior to drilling. Petition against drilling in the Virunga National Park; urge SOCO International Plc to leave the area alone.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Rui de Sousa, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of SOCO International Plc,

I understand that your company has been researching the Virunga National Park, and its surroundings, in order to establish oil drilling there. SOCO International Plc has been in contact with the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, asking permission to drill in the national park. In the DR of Congo, all activities harmful to the environment are illegal in protected areas, including Virunga National Park. Drilling for oil is absolutely damaging to animals, ecosystems and the environment.

The Virunga National Park is a pristine environment, full of individual and endangered species. There are animals there that are found in no other country in the world, such as the Okapi. This national park is a beautiful piece of untouched land, one of the few left in the world. If your company were to drill here it would be devastating to those living there: indigenous people and animals. SOCO International Plc would possibly clear cut part of the forest, conduct seismic tests, and lay pipelines. All of these activities would span beyond the actual drilling sites, impacting all of the animals found in this area.

An area of concern for many in protest is what your presence will mean for the endangered mountain gorillas. SOCO International Plc insists that its presence will not harm the gorillas, because it is purposefully staying away from the areas the gorillas inhabit. The gorillas rely on the ecosystems around them; all of the animals in the national forest peacefully coexist with each other and rely on the stability of everything. To disrupt a part of the forest is to disrupt it all.

Please respect and abide by the Congolese and international law, which protects the Virunga National Park from damaging activity. Ravaging every bit of earth until the last drop of oil is spent is not conducive to a healthy environment, or a healthy society. Oil is finite: as a collective we must move away from this resource and adapt cleaner alternatives. The grand-scale change starts with a company like yours, Mr. Sousa. Respect the laws of the Congo and the long term needs of the world; stay out of the Virunga National Park.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: LuAnne Cadd via Wikimedia Commons

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