Sonahydro DG to Champion Sustainable Exploration Dialogue During AEW 2023

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Marcellin Bilomba Mbale, Director General of Sonahydro SA, will speak at African Energy Week 2023 on the frontier potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo and how the country is prioritizing local content and sustainability in its oil and gas industry.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) – the voice of the African energy sector – is proud to announce that Marcellin Bilomba Mbale, Director General of the National Oil Company (NOC) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will speak at this year’s edition of the African Energy Week (AEW) conference and exhibition – Africa’s premier event for the energy sector, scheduled for 16 – 20 October in Cape Town. During the event, Mbale will provide insights into how the country plans on integrating sustainability with oil and gas exploration, and how regional collaboration is set to accelerate the country’s local content and infrastructure development.

Representing one of the final frontiers for oil and gas exploration worldwide, the DRC – through Sonahydro – is working towards unlocking the full potential of its untapped acreage with the aim of scaling up energy security and long-term economic growth. While the country’s proven oil reserves equate to 180 million barrels, estimated reserves are measured at over five billion barrels, offering lucrative opportunities for frontier E&P players.

Under efforts to boost foreign direct investment and attract new players to the sector, the DRC launched a 30-block licensing round in 2022. To date, three gas blocks have been awarded with 27 oil blocks still on offer. As such, AEW 2023, with its upstream-focused panel discussions and numerous networking opportunities, represents the best platform for Mbale to showcase the central African country’s upstream potential, signing new deals with E&P players. In addition to bringing in new investments and players across the DRC’s energy landscape, the licensing round will help increase the country’s oil production from the current rate of 25,000 barrels of oil per day. Sonahydro, in partnership with international E&P firm Perenco, is responsible for this production.

As a frontier market, the DRC is also leveraging cooperation with regional producing neighbors, including Angola, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo, to advance energy security, infrastructure and local content development. DRC stands to learn a great deal from regional producing markets, particularly when it comes to sustainable hydrocarbon practices. Through knowledge and skills transfer, the DRC plans on scaling-up sustainability within its sector while ensuring new developments prioritize environmental protection and economic opportunities.

Partnerships with regional producers include a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Uganda for the utilization of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline; an agreement signed with Equatorial Guinea for the joint development of an oil refinery and storage facilities in the DRC; and a deal signed with Angola for the joint development of Block 14 – situated on the maritime border of the two countries. AEW 2023, with its regional cooperation focus, represents the best platform for Mbale to network with representatives from NOCs from other African countries to discuss current and potential partnership opportunities.

“Sonahydro has played a crucial role in laying the foundation on which the DRC’s energy market is expanding. The NOC is targeting unlocking the country’s full energy potential through a series of exploration and production activities and partnerships with regional and global energy players. The untapped energy potential across the DRC’s Coastal Basin, the La Cuvette Basin and the West Branch Basins will be crucial for driving regional energy security and adding value into the local economy,” states NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC.

Taking place under the theme ‘The Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, the Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets’, AEW 2023 will unite African hydrocarbon producing countries including the DRC with global investors to showcase, discuss and maximize investment and partnership opportunities within the continent’s burgeoning energy industry.

AEW is the AEC’s interactive exhibition and networking event uniting African energy stakeholders, driving industry growth and development, and promoting Africa as the destination for African-focused events. For more information about sponsorship, attendance, and partnership opportunities, visit