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All systems go for ReconAfrica’s oil and gas project in Namibia

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WhyAfrica visited ReconAfrica’s oil and gas drilling site during our recent Southern Africa Road Trip. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

All systems go for ReconAfrica’s oil and gas project in Namibia

ReconAfrica’s oil and gas project close to Rundu in Namibia is back on track after it was temporarily halted by a court application.

By Leon Louw, owner and editor of WhyAfrica

When I visited TSX listed ReconAfrica’s oil and gas drilling site in Kavango East, about 80km from Rundu last month as part of WhyAfrica’s Southern Africa Road Trip, stratigraphic drilling was in full swing, and results were encouraging.

However, just after our visit, drilling was put on ice temporarily as the company had to fend off a court application by a third party that challenged recent amendments to ReconAfrica’s Environmental Compliance Certificate. The amendments were approved by the Environmental Commissioner of the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism.

The third party requested an order from the court for an interim interdict to restrain ReconAfrica from continuing any oil and gas exploration activities.

Early in August, the court dismissed the application for the interim interdict and ordered that the applicants pay all legal costs.  Last week ReconAfrica announced that it has received a three-year extension to its Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC), from the Office of the Environmental Commissioner, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of the Republic of Namibia, covering the entire PEL 73 permit, which covers over 6.3 million acres (25,000 km2), in northeast Namibia.

According to Scott Evans, CEO of ReconAfrica, the ECC authorises the company to continue drilling stratigraphic test wells, to depths as well as completing a sidetrack of the company’s first well, Kawe 6-2, in the Kavango Basin. The extended ECC has been approved by Ministry of Mines and Energy and National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) and is valid for three years from August 26 2022 until August 26 2025.

Managing expectations

“The extension of the Environmental Clearance Certificate was underpinned by extensive on-the-ground and research based data gathering by our technical teams working in combination with our third-party technical partners.

“The extension further demonstrates how ReconAfrica is working collaboratively with our interested and impacted stakeholders in Namibia including local and national government entities and representatives, as well as with the Traditional Authorities, as we pursue the commercial development of the Kavango Basin. The extension enables the company to plan and execute our current stratigraphic drilling and sidetrack programs.”

Local expectations that the project will benefit communities in Rundu is high. During my visit, ReconAfrica’s drilling project made headline news for more than a week in the Namibian media. The possibility that a significant oil and gas find would mean a better life for local people were discussed enthusiastically in the burgeoning villages in and around Rundu.

According to ReconAfrica’s Director Communication and Stakeholder Relations Mwanyengwa Ndapewoshali Shapwanale, the unemployment rate in the Kavango Region is unacceptably high, especially amongst the youth, many of whom are university graduates. I spend two days with Shapwanale in July who showed me around the villages and took me to ReconAfrica’s drilling site. She told me her biggest challenge was to manage these high expectations.

“The drilling project is still in a very early exploration stage and although we have confirmed the presence of oil and gas in the Petroleum Basin, it doesn’t mean it will be commercially viable,” she said.

But despite continues engagement with all stakeholders to keep them informed, most local villagers that I spoke to continue hoping that the discovery is a big one.

“Stakeholder engagement is extremely important to us. We have to manage expectations. While we have confirmed a conventional play, we still have to drill and determine exactly where the oil and gas is. Even after finding it we still have to determine whether is commercial. Managing expectations is a big part of ReconAfrica’s stakeholder engagement,” she said.

In the video below Shapwanale talks about water issues in Rundu

ReconAfrica is a Canadian oil and gas company engaged in the opening of the newly discovered deep Kavango Sedimentary Basin, in the Kalahari Desert of northeastern Namibia and northwestern Botswana, where the company holds petroleum licences.

Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in the responsible extraction of natural resources and Africa’s political economy. 

WhyAfrica does research and reports about natural resources within the primary sectors of African economies, and the infrastructure, equipment and engineering methods needed to extract and utilise these resources in an efficient, responsible, sustainable, ethic and environmentally friendly way, so that it will benefit the people of Africa.

Furthermore, WhyAfrica promotes Africa as an investment and travel destination, analyses the continent’s business environment and investment opportunities, and reports on how the political economy of African countries affects its development.         

WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021.

The company will undertake its annual road trip through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya in 2023. If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities, please contact me at leon@whyafrica.co.za. We have a wide range of different packages and combo deals to give your company the greatest exposure to a rapidly growing, African readership.  

The 2022 Southern Africa Road trip issue of WhyAfrica’s magazine is now available in print. The magazine was distributed in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana during WhyAfrica’s 2022 Southern Africa Overland Road Trip, the company’s new and innovative platform. WhyAfrica has expanded its product range and now offers its readers, followers, advertisers, subscribers and partners the following:

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management