THE arrival of the Yellowstone, a general cargo vessel, in the port of Walvis Bay has increased fears that the Kavango River and the Okavango Delta will be damaged irreparably if exploration for oil is allowed to go ahead.
ReconAfrica believes that a formation known as the Kavango Basin holds significant amounts of oil and gas. Drilling of two test wells to the south of the Kavango River is set to begin later this month as soon as the drill rig that arrived on the ship on Friday is assembled.
The company’s licensed region, which covers more than 27 800 square kilometres, is home to some 200 000 people and abundant wildlife, including important migratory routes for one of the world’s largest remaining elephant populations.
The ship came alongside on Friday morning and since then has started to discharge eight containers with parts and 208 break-bulk pieces that will eventually be assembled to form the drill rig that will be used to sink exploration wells early in the New Year.
Since ReconAfrica obtained the exploration license from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, conservationists and other concerned parties have been raising alarm over fears that if a viable oil resource is found, that a process known as fracking will be used to bring the oil to the surface.
The process of extracting oil by fracking contaminates subsurface water which will have disastrous results for the sensitive ecology of the Okavango river system.
The fears of environmentalists come from the company stating that intends to open a new, deep sedimentary basin oil and gas field.
The Kavango Basin is larger than the country of Belgium, and ReconAfrica says it could hold up to 31 billion barrels of crude oil.
ReconAfrica’s initial goal, under the exploration license already approved by the mines ministry, is to drill test wells roughly four kilometres deep to determine the presence of exploitable oil and gas.
The majority shareholder in ReconAfrica, Craig Steinke, stated that the company will not use fracking to extract oil from the sediment deep below the ground.
He stated that the exploration wells must show a viable resource before any plans can be made to extract oil or gas from the Kavango Basin.
He made it clear that the use of fracking as a method of extraction, because of the high costs involved, is not a viable option for ReconAfrica.
He said the exploration process will start in the first quarter of 2021 and if a viable resource is found and established that extraction could start as early as 2022.