Namibia considers its oil and natural gas resources to be crucial to its socio-economic development. This is according to deputy mines and energy minister, Kornelia Shilunga, who was speaking on Tuesday at the 23rd Africa Energy Forum in London, which commenced on Monday and concluded yesterday. The forum brought together African governments, utilities and regulators with development finance institutions, commercial banks, power developers, technology providers as well as professional services providers to discuss the future of Africa’s energy sector.
However, Shilunga noted that despite recent exploration efforts thus far, the only commercially exploitable petroleum discovery is the Kudu Gas Field offshore Namibia.
“Given that natural gas will play a major role as the world transit from carbon-based energy resources to renewable resources, the development of the indigenous natural gas is crucial to Namibia and the SADC region to secure affordable and reliable electricity while safeguarding our environment. Therefore, the Kudu Gas Field development offers a great investment opportunity in the Namibian energy sector,” said Shilunga.
At the London gathering, the deputy minister confirmed Namibia’s active upstream petroleum sector, stating that during the past six years, the country has issued numerous petroleum exploration licences and significant geological data and information has been collected.
“However, we are cognisant of the potential negative environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration. Thus, Namibia has sufficient legislations that regulate upstream petroleum activities, thereby ensuring that there are minimum environmental impacts and no petroleum exploration and production activities take place within environmentally sensitive protected areas. We are therefore able to sustainably develop our natural resources whilst safeguarding the impact to the environment and the contribution to climatic change,” said Shilunga.
She added that in addition to available natural gas resources, and despite slow global economic activity brought about by Covid-19 pandemic, the Namibian government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy has persisted in its efforts to encourage both International Oil Companies (IOCs) and local companies to carry out exploration activities.
Said Shilunga: “This effort has culminated in the drilling of two stratigraphic test wells in onshore Namibia. These wells are the first onshore wells since independence, which have also proved a working petroleum system onshore. This has sparked renewed interest for the onshore acreage. Moreover, also for the offshore in Orange Basin, our license holders are due to spud the confirmed two upcoming wells scheduled for Q4 2021. The potential, therefore, remains very high, and we welcome your investments with open arms”.
Shilunga remained steadfast that the provision of secure, affordable and reliable energy is essential and a prerequisite to the economic growth and development of Africa and the wellbeing of its citizens.
However, she emphasised that around 800 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa still have no access to reliable and affordable modern energy, thus exacerbating energy poverty as a serious issue in Africa.
“It is, therefore, imperative that as African we discuss these pertinent issues in the context of Africa energy landscape and establish Africa’s position in the energy transition. I am not saying we should not play our part as members of the global community in minimising the human contribution to climate change. I am saying that we as Africans should set the pace and manner in which we transit from fossil fuel to renewable source of energy,” said Shilunga.
She added that Namibia is ready to embrace the change facing the energy sector due to the imminent climatic changes the world is experiencing.
However, she cautioned that this change should be realistic to the energy needs of the Namibian people, the region and the continent, saying; “It is also critical that this change is cognisant of the development agenda of Namibia and Africa as a whole, most of which are dependent on the exploitation of all the available energy resources”.