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Namibia eager to learn Qatar oil lesson

2022-10-11  Paheja Siririka

Namibia eager to learn Qatar oil lesson

Paheja Siririka

Energy minister Tom Alweendo says the partnership between Qatar and Namibia on the discovery of oil in the Orange basin is a win-win scenario. As such, he stated, Namibia is looking forward to learning from the experience accumulated by an oil industry giant, such as Qatar, which remains a major global oil producer. Yesterday, during a courtesy call of Qatari energy minister Sherida Al-Kaabi and his delegates on President Hage Geingob at State House, Alweendo said: “It’s a new industry for us, so there is a need to make sure the resources will be monetised to ensure it does become meaningful to the people of Namibia”. QatarEnergy, the State-owned petroleum corporation of Qatar, owns a significant stake in Shell and TotalEnergies’ oil discoveries made off the Namibian coast earlier this year. 

Since the substantial light oil discoveries, Namibia has expressed interest in acquiring assistance from Qatar to ensure the development of a National Petroleum Development
Strategy. Namibia also aims to adopt best practices and policies from Qatar to ensure the effective management of capital to be acquired from oil and gas exploration and production. 

Furthermore, Qatar will also assist in areas of environmental management.  Alweendo added: “As a State, Qatar has been in the business much longer than us. Therefore, we can learn many lessons from them. What we should not do is repeat some of the mistakes they might have made, especially in terms of localisation issues. That is where things can go wrong if you do not do it the right way.

Therefore, I think that is one particular area where we are cooperating with and to make sure that we get it all right”.  Alweendo also told New Era this is not necessarily a bilateral partnership between Qatar and Namibia. 

“You must remember Qatar is an investor in the oil discoveries together with Total and Shell,” Alweendo noted. He said, as a state, Namibia can approach them directly to rely on their expertise.

Meanwhile, the Qatari minister Al-Kaabi noted they are working hard with partners to try to expedite the oil discovery appraisal process, which precedes the development and the submission to the government for developing the finds.

“What we bring in is a perspective of a national company that always looks at the sanctity of contracts, making sure we do the right thing in any country that we are in anywhere we work in the world, and I am sure you will get many benefits from that,” said Al-Kaabi. 

“We need to ensure we can get that development finalised as soon as possible for the benefit of Namibia and the people of Namibia. As a national oil company, we take great pride in serving our country and making sure that we are serving the interests of the people of Qatar. We will make sure that in everything that we do, we do the same to the people of Namibia,” the Qatari minister added. 

Also commenting on the process, Namibia’s petroleum commissioner Maggy Shino said partners have assisted in terms of ensuring Namibia moves from the phase of exploration to enable the country to become an oil-producing nation. 

“We are looking forward to a future relationship that goes even beyond just the development of the (oil) fields. At a technical level, we have agreed to have cooperation in terms of a memorandum of understanding and to have an agreement we can tap into from their experience as an oil-producing nation for many years,” Shino explained. 

She added: “For us to have an effective administration of our sector and ensure the benefits to the revenue from the resources, we need to make sure this is a game changer for Namibian citizens”.

Shino continued that the Qatari assistance would come in handy in terms of building capacity and leapfrogging technology to avoid delays in appraisals.

“We are looking for the ability to be able to expedite the development phase. It’s through this relationship that we are working with them so that we can get robust assistance and cooperation in terms of us going forward and taking this industry forward for the benefit of all Namibian citizens,” she noted.

Also at yesterday’s meeting, President Hage Geingob welcomed the utilising of local oil for the benefit of the country, adding that even if he leaves office, progress must continue, as there are systems in place to ensure that.

Earlier yesterday, the visiting Qatari delegation met Alweendo and the ministry of mines and energy officials, where they discussed matters pertaining to the importance of skills development in the Namibia oil and gas sector, shareholding, timelines and activities before possible production. 

This was where Al Kaabi also alluded to the importance of fast and effective government processes and systems.  He further touched on the importance of engineering, procurement and construction contracts, which he emphasised would require close management when realising exploration and ultimately production. 


2022-10-11  Paheja Siririka

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