‘Fracking in the Okavango is insanity!’

Namibian resistance dismissed by ReconAfrica

08 February 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • Frank Steffen

“It is 2021. A time of climate and biodiversity crises. Fracking in the Okavango is insanity!”
This according to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mary Lawlor, about the gas and oil exploration project in the Kavango region.
National and international criticism is increasing, but neither the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) nor the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Land Reform (MAWLR) have commented on the issue, while the Ministry of Mining and Energy (MME) only expressed itself through its regional representatives, due to a conflict of interest revealed by the participation of this ministry in what appears to be a dubious project in an ecologically sensitive environment and that promises political repercussions.
Now the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that is committed to the preservation of the earth's biological diversity, the sustainable use of natural resources and the curbing of environmental pollution and harmful consumer behaviour, has levelled an appeal to the Namibian and Botswana government.

Done deal
In the meantime, ReconAfrica and its supporters have joined the online fray, with a certain “Taurus” writing on the Yahoo! Finance website: “Y’all ... this public hearing is a non-issue. We've had those meetings where I live in regards to drilling and some of those meetings had thousands of people in attendance. In some of those meetings, I was THE GUY on stage giving the presentation and taking / answering questions / bullets from the audience. The drilling and seismic all moved forward. Seriously ... this is a non-issue. The Namibian Government owns 100% of the surface of the leased land that Recon has. The Namibian Government is on as a 10% partner, and the Namibian Government issues the permits.”
Statements like this explain why ReconAfrica was not deterred during a public meeting last week when asked who had given them permission to test drill. Land allocation is generally negotiated through local government.
Contrary to claims by ReconAfrica, drilling is not only limited to three holes in a small area; the entire Kavango region up to the eastern world heritage site of Tsodilo Hills and the adjacent delta in Botswana is affected, so too the Khaudom National Park, where the San live in their traditional habitat.
Moreover, the Kavango-Epukiro groundwater basin extends over the entire Omaheke region and most of the Otjozondjupa region, not to mention the karstveld itself and the super aquifer discovered three years ago in eastern Ovamboland.
The drilling slag is currently being pumped into a water basin that is not fitted with plastic sheeting in accordance with international standards. If the borehole casing is not properly sealed due to the lack of quality controls, salt and brackish water will inevitably get into the groundwater, a Namibia-based geologist says.
In the meantime it became known on Friday that the drill pipe had broken off at a depth of 1,000 meters – that is 700m deeper than ReconAfrica had said it would be drilling at just four days earlier. The machines that are needed to replace the rods, including the drill bit, were still in the port of Walvis Bay.

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