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AfrOil: DRC licensing round attracts green investor

An unconventional candidate has entered the onshore bidding round launched last July by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – EQX Biome, a US-based investment firm that focuses on preserving biodiversity. The fund has reportedly submitted offers for all 27 of the potentially oil-bearing blocks included in the licensing round.

In its bids, EQX Biome outlined an alternative business case to oil exploration, saying it was prepared to spend $400mn on conservation projects that could then generate $6bn via the sale of carbon credits over a period of 20 years. It described this outcome as vastly preferable to drilling in environmentally sensitive locations such as forested areas and peatlands that act as carbon dioxide sinks.

According to Matthias Pitkowitz, the fund’s CEO, this proposal makes better economic sense than oil exploration and development, as it has the potential to create thousands of local jobs and can generate taxable revenue. “Six billion dollars instead of oil drilling. This isn’t dreamland,” he said.