Pharos Energy

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Pharos Energy Plc
Public company
Traded asLSEPHAR
IndustryOil and Gas Exploration
Founded1997 as Snyder Oil Corporation International
HeadquartersLondon, England
Key people
Rui de Sousa, chairman
Ed Story, CEO
Revenue$448.2 million (2014)[1]
$152.6 million (2014)[1]
$14.0 million (2014)[1]

Pharos Energy Plc, previously SOCO International, is an oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company has interests in Vietnam, the Republic of Congo, and Angola.[2]

In 2014 they explored for oil in Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the DRC, and attempted to bribe and intimidate people who opposed their efforts.[3][4][5] Following international pressure they agreed to suspect further exploration.[6]


In 2008 the company agreed to sell its operations in Yemen to Sinochem for $US465 million.[7] In 2010 the company agreed to sell its Thailand assets to UK listed Salamander Energy for $US105m.[8] During 2010, the company is aiming to derisk 600 million barrels of potential net recoverable reserves with a drilling programme focused in Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[9] On 16 October 2019 the company announced that it had changed its name to Pharos Energy plc. [10]


Pharos has been active in Vietnam since 1996 and currently has two oil and gas producing blocks in the country: Block 9-2 and Block 16-1 of the (Te Giac Trang field)[11] SOCO commenced oil production there in August 2015.

Pharos has a 17% interest in Cabinda Onshore North Block, in the North Congo Basin, onshore western Cabinda in Angola.[12]

In February 2016 the company started drilling the Baobab Marine-1 well in the Mer Profonde Sud block offshore the Congo Brazzaville – Marine XI. SOCO said the well is "unique" to all of the other wells drilled on or near that block because it is targeting a different type of prospect. The well is targeting gross prospective recoverable resources of 330 million barrels of oil.[2][13]

SOCO's operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the Onshore North Congo Basin e commenced in 2013 with a short bathymetry study of Lake Edward and ceased in August 2014, in accordance with its June 2014 public commitment .[14][15]

Virunga National Park[edit]

In 2012 SOCO began to explore for oil in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to 200 of the remaining 700 endangered mountain gorilla.[16] SOCO said it was not drilling for oil and had no plans to drill.[17][18] Drilling was strongly opposed and condemned by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 2010 SOCO received a Presidential decree from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to explore for hydrocarbons in Block V, in the southern Albertine Graben, onshore eastern DRC. Block V encompassed an area of the Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site, including a part of Lake Edward. SOCO had advised that Block V was not located close to the Mikeno Section, which is home to the mountain gorillas.[19]

In January 2011 SOCO employees allegedly forced their way into the Park, resulting in the conservation head of the park and several international agencies declaring their intention to bring lawsuits against SOCO. SOCO's share price subsequently fell.[20] SOCO's Deputy Chief Executive Officer Roger Cagle said at the time that "The forcible entry is blatantly false." Cagle said SOCO was with a provincial member of parliament and had permission to enter the park.[21]

In March 2011 the then DRC Environment Minister Jose Endundo rejected an environmental assessment submitted by SOCO and announced that the government would now be conducting its own environmental assessment into oil exploration in Virunga, as well as the entire border region. Nevertheless, in September 2011 former Minister Endundo passed an order giving SOCO the authorisation to conduct the evaluation of hydrocarbons in the context of the Strategic Environmental Evaluation.[22]

In June 2014, SOCO signed a joint declaration with the World Wildlife Fund, saying it would not drill in Virunga "unless UNESCO and the D.R.C. government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status".However, SOCO has yet to relinquish its operating permits or commit to an unconditional withdrawal…"They’re leaving the door open," said Zach Abraham, director of the World Wildlife Fund's global campaigns.[23] They at the time supposedly told the government they were planning to stay in the hope that the park borders would be changed.[5]

In a statement, Ed Story, SOCO's chief executive in 2017, said: “Hopefully we can all get back to activities focused on both people and the environment where it does the most good for a place that we think can have a better future.”[24]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2014" (PDF). SOCO International. Retrieved 3 April 2015.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "SOCO commences drilling from Congo well – News for the Oil and Gas Sector". Energy Voice. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Congo's former president awarded oil block in UNESCO heritage site". Reuters. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  4. ^ Vidal, John (9 June 2015). "UK oil firm 'paid Congolese officer who offered bribe to Virunga park ranger'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Bribery scandal forces UK oil firm to abandon Congo oil block". Kaieteur News. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  6. ^ Vidal, John; editor, environment (11 June 2014). "Soco halts oil exploration in Africa's Virunga national park". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  7. ^ Pharos agreed to sell Yemen ops to China's Sinochem for $US465 million Forbes, 2 April 2008
  8. ^ Proposed Disposal of Soco Thailand Company Website, 20 July 2010
  9. ^ SOCO International launching major oil exploration programme Stockopedia 17 May 2010
  10. ^ Change in Registered Company Name Company Website 16 October 2019
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "SOCO International plc 18.8% Potential Decrease Indicated by Barclays Capital". DirectorsTalk Interviews. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  13. ^ "SOCO Drilling Baobab Marine-1 Well in Search of 330 Million Barrels". 8 February 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Press release". WWF. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "DR Congo blocks Soco from oil search in Virunga park". BBC News. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Redirecting..." Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  18. ^ Reuters (25 September 2012). "Soco International Oil Exploration in Democratic Republic of Congo Sanctuary Opposed By British". HuffPost. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Block V and the Virunga National Park". Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Congo Wildlife Authority Presses Charges Against Soco". Bloomberg L.P. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Congo Wildlife Authority Presses Charges Against Soco (Correct)". 17 February 2011. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Ministry of the Environment" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  23. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (15 November 2014). "Oil Dispute Takes a Page From Congo's Bloody Past". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  24. ^ "British oil company SOCO agrees to cease operations in Congo's". The Independent. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2017.

External links[edit]