OKACOM acknowledges Namibia and Botswana government’s position on ReconAfrica oil exploration activities

THE Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) has recognised the position taken by both the Namibia and Botswana government on ReconAfrica’s oil exploration activities in the trans-boundary Cubango-Okavango River Basin (CORB) which is shared by Angola, Botswana and Namibia.

“Firstly, the Commission recognises the legitimacy of Petroleum Exploration License PEL073 and PEL001 issued to ReconAfrica by the relevant authorities in both Namibia and Botswana respectively, both of which are at varying stages. Both governments, through the Ministries responsible for mining and energy, have issued official statements stating that the explorative activities are well within environmentally safe boundaries and do not pose any harm to the Basin,” a statement by the commission read.

The statement comes after a council meeting organised by OKACOM, specifically to discuss the explorative activities by ReconAfrica, which sparked national, regional and international interest with claims of adverse short and long term environmental impact on the Basin.

Some of the claims of adverse impact on the environment, is that of fracing.

ReconAfrica has on several avenues placed on record that the company is focused on conventional developments only and has no interest in the unconventional.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, had in the past also commented that no licence for the development of unconventional resources  has ever been applied for by ReconAfrica or any such license granted in Namibia.

“We can confirm that no licence to conduct fracking activities was granted to Reconnaissance Energy by the ministry, and no such licence is being contemplated,” Petroleum Commissioner, Maggy Shino had been quoted saying in local media earlier this year.

The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) coordinating ministers also commented that Namibia’s clarification on fracing claims has been noted – that no permit has been issued for unconventional development also known as fracing.

The commission noted that the member states reported that their key objective and commitment is to ensure that ongoing and proposed prospecting activities are done outside of the core and buffer zones of the delineated protected conservation areas as provided for in their respective environmental legislations, and that ReconAfrica will need to comply as indicated in their project plans.

This is to be enforced by the respective ministries responsible for water and environment and the member states will make an effort to ensure that their respective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislations and approaches are harmonised and synchronised in order to ensure comparability of results.

Furthermore, in light of the current explorative activities taking place, the prevention of ‘significant harm’ and ‘significant adverse effects’ to co-riparian states has become a key management aim between all three Member States.

The commission in its statement indicated that the relevant ministers from each country, should be involved and adequately briefed and advised on the status of these initiatives for them to make the necessary decisions as appropriate, and guide the process.

ReconAfrica has managed to foster great close-working relationships with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism as well as the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Land Reform to ensure compliance with the laws and regulatory obligations expected of the company.

“We remain committed to adhering to all the laws of the country and regulatory processes as expected of us throughout our operations,” ReconAfrica said.

The company was recently granted an Environment Clearance Certificate for their 450km 2D seismic acquisition program, expected to kick off in the next week.

“Now that the first two wells have successfully established an active conventional petroleum system in the Kavango basin, we are moving to the next phase of the exploration process; acquisition, processing, and interpretation of the first regional seismic grid in this newly identified sedimentary basin. The program will provide the regional geologic structural and stratigraphic framework and identify conventional hydrocarbon accumulations, with the goal of commercialising this potential major source of energy for Namibia,” ReconAfrica Chief Executive Officer, Scot Evans said.