Okavango Delta Faces Threat

The Okavango Delta, a world Heritage site and one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world faces a serious environmental threat if Canadian company Recon Africa goes ahead with its plans to drill oil and gas well in Kavango area.

This has caused great uneasiness among the environmental conservation world, as the area earmarked by the company for fracking sits in one of the biggest conservation Transfrontier areas – The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areas. There are fears that such a development would have catastrophic impact on the ecological and hydrological functioning of the Okavango Delta downstream.

The move would disturb the environmental ecosystems of the Kavango River, the Okavango Delta and its also feared that it would affect the Tsodilo Hills, also a heritage site. The Okavango River, in the north of the potential fracking zone, is the sole provider of water to the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s most visited tourist attraction.

In a statement released recently the company stated that it is a position to “initiate and complete a three well drilling program in the most opportune parts of Kavango Basin, with the initial goal of establishing an active Permian aged petroleum system.”

The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Scot Evans said Recon Africa has successfully With the very successful completion of ReconAfrica’s recent round of funding of approximately C$23 million, the Company is now well positioned to begin its evaluation of the Kavango Basin, one of the world’s last remaining undeveloped deep sedimentary basins,” stated Scot Evans, Chief Executive Officer.

To further show the advancement of the company’s drilling plans, Reacon Africa says it will use its 1000 HP Crown drilling rig purchased in Q1 2020, which is completing refurbishment and upgrade by Henderson Rigs in Houston.

“While several months of work was lost due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, work has resumed and on track to complete the refurbishment by October, 2020, where subsequently the rig and all ancillary equipment will be shipped from the Port of Houston, Texas to the Port of Walvis Bay, Namibia and on to the first of three drilling locations in the Kavango Basin, northeastern Namibia,” the statement reads.

The company said it holds petroleum licenses comprising approximately 8.75 million acres in northeastern Namibia and northwestern Botswana.

The project seems to be shrouded in mystery and secrecy as authorities in both countries have remained mum on this developments, but the announcement by the company has triggered an outcry from conservationists in Namibia. The have decried lack of consultation on the proposed project.

They have posited that a project of this magnitude requires process of consultation and an Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted before its approved.

Maxi Pia Louis, director of the Namibian Association of Community-based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations (Nacso), is quoted in The Namibian saying the lack of consultation by Recon Africa in the eleven community park concessions included in the alleged prospecting licence area.

“I have no idea about this. It is huge, if there was an environmental impact assessment, I would have known because this is where a lot of our conservation projects are,” she says.

The prospective area is also home to Africa’s largest migrating elephant herd as well as endangered African painted dogs and sable antelope. It is also a cornerstone of Namibia’s tourism economy.

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