The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) has refuted allegations in an article in a local newspaper, stating that fracking will take place in the Okavango Delta, and assured the public that all necessary environmental impact permits for the project are in place. The ministry confirmed that an exploration licence was granted to Reconnaissance Energy Namibia Pty Ltd (Recon) to look for oil and gas, but not to conduct any fracking activities in the Okavango Delta, as indicated in an article in The Namibian newspaper.
The MME also stated that planned drilling sites are not located along the banks of the Okavango River as indicated in the article and that the drilling locations are very far from the Okavango Delta. The regulator further stated that on record, no hydraulic fracking activities are planned in Namibia.
“The focus of the upcoming drilling programme is to establish the presence of a hydrocarbon system and conventional reservoirs. To date no onshore Production Licence for PEL 73 has been applied for/or granted and no licence for the development of unconventional resources (E.g. Shale gas) has ever been applied for/or granted in Namibia. This means that on record, no hydraulic fracking activities are planned in Namibia. It also means that the company Recon will not be conducting any fracking activities in the Okavango Delta,” read the ministry’s statement.
The ministry also clarified that the proposed exploration activities will not in any way cause any negative impacts to the Okavango ecosystem, saying that the known Okavango ecosystem is not connected at all to the proposed drilling locations.
Reads the statement: “The planned drilling under PEL 73 by Reconnaissance Energy of stratigraphic wells is located in Block 1820 in the recently identified Kavango basin, centred on Ncaute, 55km south of Rundu, in northern Namibia. The locations are not located along the banks of the Okavango River as indicated in the article. In fact, the drilling locations are very far from the Okavango Delta.”
The ministry reiterated that no oil and gas exploration activities are allowed in national parks and no licences overlapping with any national park have been granted, saying that all national parks have been excluded from petroleum exploration licences, including the PEL 73 area.
“The government, affected stakeholders and the civil society have been kept well-informed about this programme. Most importantly, the programme boasts a social licence that allows it to continue its efforts in the PEL 73 area. This means, the community was engaged and there is an ongoing acceptance and approval of the exploration project by the local community members and other stakeholders that have the power to affect the productivity of this very important programme,” the statement read.
The statement added that finding oil and gas and the development of a successful oil and gas industry will result in an increase of state income through rights rentals and payment of direct and indirect taxes.
“It will further result in knowledge creation as the programme will present a better understanding of the Kavango basin, the greater Etosha and Kalahari basins petroleum systems of Namibia that could finally lead to the discovery of economic oil or gas or both resources that will change the economic landscape of Namibia for the benefit of its people.”
According to the ministry, the socioeconomic impacts of exploratory drilling will result in the employment of locals, the provision of drilling of community water supply wells near the proposed well locations, a supply of services and demands on local infrastructure services.
“The list is endless and it is important to mention that, such impacts will start before the mobilisation of equipment to the drilling site and will continue even after drilling has finished,” the statement concluded.