GENEVA (AP) — An agreement announced Wednesday between a London-based oil company and a wildlife protection group could prevent oil drilling in a national park in Africa where 200 endangered mountain gorillas live.
A joint statement by SOCO International PLC and Switzerland-based WWF said there will be no exploratory drilling in Congo's Virunga National Park, which is Africa's oldest, unless the government and the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO agree it would not threaten the park's world heritage status.
As part of the understanding, SOCO agreed to suspend exploration once it finishes seismic testing on Lake Edward and WWF pledged to drop a complaint that the oil company violates good-practice business guidelines set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
SOCO denied allegations it had withheld information about the environmental risks of possibly drilling on a tract that overlaps with the park, which is best known for being home to about a quarter of the world's estimated 800 remaining mountain gorillas.
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