H.E Didier Budimbu, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the Democratic Republic of Congo, announces the country’s new licensing round for 16 oil blocks that are available for exploration during a roundtable hosted by the African Energy Chamber.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) represents one of Africa’s emerging frontier markets, with 180 million barrels of proven oil reserves and yet up to 5 billion barrels of estimated reserves. In an effort to capitalize on this reserve potential and kickstart the country’s hydrocarbon boom, in an exclusive roundtable interview hosted by the African Energy Chamber and in the presence of H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the DRC, provides insight into the country’s upcoming licensing round.
Please tell us about the licensing round, when will it be launched and how many blocks are on offer?
From July 28 to 29, 2022, in Kinshasa, we will be launching tenders for exploration and infrastructure development where we will showcase what we have in the country. The licensing round will be for 16 blocks that are available for oil exploration. We are trying to market these 16 blocks and marketing will be done via platforms such as African Energy Week in Cape Town. The information regarding the tenders will be available on the database of the ministry, where interested parties can access the data at a price that will be disclosed.
The DRC has huge potential in terms of hydrocarbons, though there has only been 4.5% of development of these resources. There is a lot that could be done in terms of gas, especially in the region of Kivu. I am very positive about the DRC’s gas future. We want to learn from others who have done it and that is why we are partnering with our regional counterparts such as Equatorial Guinea. Gas to power is an area that we will also focus on, and we see collaboration playing a key role in expanding our market. Regarding the energy transition, we want to do the energy transition, but we want to benefit from the resources that we have.
What incentives will the DRC put in place to attract the investments required to boost the hydrocarbons market?
We will be introducing some tax alleviation and exemptions to attract more companies and investors. We want interested companies to launch exploration, production and to develop infrastructure fast so we will put in place all the reforms required to attract investors and companies.
How much hydrocarbon potential does the DRC have?
The DRC has the potential to produce between 500,000 to 1 million barrels per day, this is our goal. There is also potential for the DRC to develop methane for use in-country. We have a large population of between 12 to 14 million people and so there is a significant internal market. We also want to expand our gas production to enable between 25 to 30 million people to use our energy. We are also looking at this as a way to preserve our environment, not through coal but through gas for cooking and other activities.
The DRC spends massive amounts in importing refined petroleum. Is the ministry planning to boost internal refinery capacity?
Our plan is to see how we can build in-country refineries. We have the Cabinda refinery that we will be putting in place and we want this project to happen because we want to decrease the costs of importation. It is crucial for us to have a better price. Also, looking at the project H.E. Minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima presented to us, we feel that the project regarding the interconnection of pipelines will enable us to get product from around the region. Our refinery in the country is no longer operational and so we are trying to get other projects we have moving forward.