Alweendo denies corruption in awarding exploration license

Martin Endjala

Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo has denied corruptly awarding petroleum exploration licenses as it has been alleged over the past weeks.

Alweendo was responding to questions posed to him by the Landless People’s Movement Deputy leader Henny Seibeb.

Alweendo last week came under fire for allegedly corruptly awarding an oil exploration license to a company owned by someone who is reportedly his friend.

The minister explained that the company in question, Titan Oil and Gas is a Namibian, and has a minority participating interest in two petroleum exploration licenses, namely PEL98 and PEL 106.

In addition, the National Petroleum Company (Namcor) also has a minority participating interest in the two licenses. PEL98 was awarded in February 2021 to Eco Oil and Gas Services, a Namibian-registered company, while PEL 106 was awarded in December 2022 to Oranto Petroleum, a Nigerian-registered company.

Alweendo explained that the applicants in both licenses were not Titan, but Eco Oil and Gas in the case of PEL98 and Oranto Petroleum in the case of PEL 106. Hence the licenses were awarded to Eco Oil and Oranto Petroleum, and not to Titan as being alleged.

In both cases, the award was made to the applicants after the applications were handled in exactly the same manner and process.

The Licensing Evaluation Committee evaluated the applications and found it worthy of awarding the two licenses and made its recommendation accordingly.

“It now so transpired that one of the shareholders of Titan is someone known to me, and hence the allegation of corruption against me,” explained Alweendo.

However, he cited the allegation as an absurdity to assume that just because a person is known to the Minister or is a friend of the Minister, his or her participation is only on account of the Minister’s meddling influence.

The Minister commended those who are courageous enough to call out corruption, especially when committed by those in positions of power and influence.

“Throughout my long professional career, I always spoke out against corruption and promoted good governance. As an example, the Bank of Namibia where I spent 16 years of my career at the helm of the institution, is today the epitome of good governance, where there is zero tolerance for corruption.

Hon. Speaker, my detest for corruption has not changed, and it is not about to change. Therefore, the allegations of corruption on my part are vehemently and unambiguously rejected,” said Alweendo.

Furthermore, he stressed that as per the provisions of Section 11 of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, the Minister does not receive any application for a petroleum licence but rather the Petroleum Commissioner.

Therefore, all applications for oil and gas licenses are received by the Petroleum Commissioner. In this respect, it is the Petroleum Commissioner who receives, evaluates and then recommends to the Minister to either award or reject an application.

He clarified that to minimise the risk of collusion between the Minister and the Commissioner, they have instituted a Licensing Evaluation Committee to assist the Commissioner. The Committee consists of officials from the Petroleum Department, and it is chaired by the Commissioner.

As an added measure of checks and balances, the Committee makes its recommendations to the Minister through the Executive Director, and under normal circumstances, the process is such that the Minister is not able to know who has applied until a recommendation is made to him or her.

Alweendo emphasised that corruption in all its manifestations is abhorrent, it is repugnant and must be rejected by everyone regardless of who is involved in it.

He called on everyone to join forces to ensure that the nascent petroleum sector is managed honourably, such that the economic benefits accrue to all Namibians fairly and equitably.

The minister has also urged industry role players to fight corruption in its various forms and at all costs avoid crony capitalism. However, it must be done with integrity and honesty, and not in a manner that is tantamount to character assassination.

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