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Kavango conservancies seek court order to halt ReconAfrica oil drilling activities

Kavango conservancies seek court order to halt ReconAfrica oil drilling activities

Zorena Jantze

FOUR Nature conservancies in the Kavango region has lodged an urgent application against the explorative actives of Reconnaissance Energy Namibia (REN), ReconAfrica’s subsidiary to halt its oil drilling activities following environmental concerns.

The court case was prompted by recent amendments made to ReconAfrica’s Environmental Clearance Certificate which will allow the company additional explorative activities.

The conservancies, namely Ncumcara community forest management, Muduva Nyangana communal conservancy, Katope community forest management, Kavango East and West regional conservancy and community forest association were represented by the Legal Assistance Centre’s lawyer, Corinna Van Wyk, while the State was represented by Sisa Namanje.

 

File photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Energy voice.

The matter was postponed to 15 July, to give the presiding judge, Esi Schimming-Chase time to acquaint herself with some court documents filed at the last minute, whilst Namanje also asked that the court consider the legality of the application, and its Locus Standi.

In the founding affidavit, Paulus Kampanza, the chairperson of the Ncumcara Community Forest Management Committee, stated that aII the applicants are situated and established with their operations dispersed throughout both the Kavango East and West regions.

Kampanza said that they seek an urgent interim interdict to prevent the continuation of the REN’s petroleum exploration activities as authorised by the Environment Commissioner’s decision – namely the proposed drilling of “four priority multiple stratigraphic wells No’s P23, P32, P33 and P2-7Ga and the side-tracking of the 6—2 well drilled in 2021”.

The conservancies further argued against a decision made on 15 June, when the Environmental Commissioner granted the application to REN to, inter alia, amend the conditions of its Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) No. 0091 to allow unassessed listed activities to take place without a proper Environmental Impact Assessment.

“The decision relates to an application by REN that sought, in addition to a renewal of the ECC for a further period, the authorisation to carry out the drilling of new stratigraphic wells and construction or development of new associated services for the purpose of exploring for hydrocarbons in the Kavango Basin, under its Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) No. 73,” Kampanza said.

The conservancies further argued that the Environmental Commissioner ostensibly acted beyond the powers conferred upon him in terms of section 39 of Environment Management Act 7 (2007).

Pending the final determination of the relief sought, the conservancies have requested that REN apply for a new ECC in terms of section 31(1) of in the Environmental Management Act, by complying with the procedures in the act and its regulations, inter alia, to provide proper notice and carry out consultations with all potentially interested and affected parties, including the applicants.

Further to this, REN has been requested to conduct an adequate environmental impact assessment of each proposed drilling site and assess cumulative and other impacts.

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