Helena Johannes

The Minister of Agriculture Water and Forestry Calle Schlettwein maintains his office has not been approached by any expert, with evidence on the negative impact of drilling wells for oil exploration in the Kavango region.

“Our main aim is to ensure that it does not cause any economical and agricultural harm. However, on this project we have not been approached by anyone on the harms this might cause,” said Calle.

This comes after Conservationists and community leaders in the Okavango wilderness region of Namibia according to media reports have raised alarms over oil and gas exploration and its potential impact, which may threaten the water resources of thousands of people and endangered wildlife.

The Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) says it is satisfied with procedures being followed by Reconnaissance Energy Africa and thus has issued it with a Environmental Clearance Certificate to carry out its exploration work.

“The exploration license issued to Reconnaissance Energy Africa is for data gathering only and not oil or gas production. The company will drill stratigraphic wells and not fracking, with aim to study the geology and confirm the existence oil and gas within the geological structure. It is not our project, but we have issued an environment clearance certificate and we assure the public that procedures were followed in issuing the Environmental Clearance Certificate in support of the scope of work to drill two to three stratigraphic Wells. Public and stakeholder consultations were undertaken by the company as required to among others the leadership of the two Kavango Regions,” said Romeo Muyunda MEFT Chief Public Relation Officer.

According to Muyunda, the project will not cover the entire license area and the disturbance will only occur at about 250 x 250 meters around each drilling well and the area is not at the banks of the river but situated 55 km south of Rundu, 80 km south of the Okavango river, more than 260 km from the Okavango Delta in Botswana and 40 km from the boundary of the Khaudum.

“That the area is not environmentally sensitive and there is definitely no way in which the operation will cause any trans-boundary negative impact to the Okavango Ecosystem and in an event oil and gas is discovered or both.”

Mines minister, Tom Alweendo said the ministry had only granted an exploration license to the company.

“The company has not found any oil, thus has not applied for a production license. The drilling they intend to do is to determine if there’s oil. With regards to concerns from local farmers, l held a consultative meeting with the farmers to address their concerns.

“They were concerned with mainly two issues. First, that drilling will take place all over the area of the exploration license and that they will lose their farm. Second, drilling will contaminate underground water.

“The meeting was also attended by the Regional Governor and the company representatives. It was explained to the farmers that this drilling is a localized operation and that the method used will not allow underground water contamination. At the end of the meeting they were satisfied with the explanation provided,” he said.