The West Central African country of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, formerly Zaïre) is rich in mineral resources, especially copper and cobalt, which provide the country’s main source of income. However, production from the upstream oil industry, mainly from offshore fields, is an important contributor to the national economy.

War still ravages the DRC. Despite a ceasefire signed in July 1999, hostilities broke out again in DRC in March 2000. The political instability has had a detrimental effect on the economy.

The exploitation of the country’s hyrdocarbon resources, mainly from offshore fields, is an important contributor to the national economy. Production is approximately 25,000 bpd.

Exploration for oil and gas in DRC began in the 1960’s along the country’s 22 km Atlantic Ocean coastline at the estuary of the Congo River (Congo) which is sandwiched between the prolific offshore producing region of northern Angola and its oil-rich enclave of Cabinda.

Exploration continued during the 1970’s and early 1980’s and by 1983, 41 wells had been sunk. Out of this activity, 5 operating oil fields and 1 gas field were discovered, the most significant finds being offshore. Of these, the Mibale field, discovered in 1973 by Chevron, contains 48% of the Coastal Basin’s recoverable reserves and remains Congo’s most productive field. The gas field discovered has so far not been exploited.

In 1998 the DRC closed down its only simple oil refinery – SOCIR refinery – owned by Xoil and the Government of the DRC.

The industry is regulated by the Ministry of Mines and Energy which, through its Energy Department, controls the public and parastatal bodies, and private companies in the petroleum and power industries.

Shaun Bakamoso

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