The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, says ReconAfrica needs to comply with regulatory and licensing regulations of the country.
Windhoek Observer asked the Minister why the company continued to explore for oil and gas in the Kavango region without a water permit, thus violating mining regulations. A water permit is a key requirement to mining as water is essential for cooling and lubricating the drill bit when drilling. “My position is that all licensing requirements must be complied with. Where that is not the case, the company must be made to comply.” Alweendo said.
The Minister’s statement on ReconAfrica’s operations, is in contrast to the ministry’s sentiments defending the mining activities of ReconAfrica, despite its Petroleum Commissioner, Maggy Shino, previously confirming that the company required a water permit for it to legally explore for oil in the country. Shino further explained that the license for oil is the first step for any oil and gas hopeful company in the country.
“Before they undertake the different activities, they need to liaise with the different relevant regulatory authorities for those activities to be taken. We give them the license to explore first, and then they have to contact the Ministry of Environment to undertake the environmental impact assessment,” the Petroleum Commissioner, Shino had said.
“Following from that is the different activities that are to be performed when a company is exploring comes later after the license to explore is granted.”
“Drilling an exploration well is just one of the activities of undertaking exploration. There are two drill operations. The one that the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for is the one where they drill for water that they are utilizing at the site.”
ReconAfrica began exploring for oil at Kawe village in the Kavango East region earlier this year and announced they spudded their first (6-2) well.
Alweendo’s position comes as Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, has once again confirmed that ReconAfrica has not been issued a water license by his ministry, despite it having now applied for one. “The MAW&LR has the mandate to manage and regulate water resources within the territory of Namibia. It is therefore important to reconfirm that ReCon Africa has applied to drill boreholes, for both exploration and abstraction and purposes. So far however no permit has been issued,” Schlettwein said in a social media post.
Windhoek Observer could not verify how the company was able to obtain an environmental impact assessment without first obtaining a water permit.
Regarding what action was being taken regarding the breaching of Namibian laws by ReconAfrica, there was no response by the time of publication.