Competition is heating up for prime onshore acreage in the Semliki basin, ranged along the remote eastern shores of the Great Lakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, even as activity has been halted on the Ugandan side over an apparently intractable tax wrangle.

Total, alongside Tullow Oil and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, may have stalled work on Uganda’s Lake Albert and the proposed export pipeline through Tanzania, but the French supermajor has not given up on this play — and is still courting contiguous DR Congo acreage.