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15 Feb 2021

Energy Voice

Okavango goes international with ReconAfrica under fire

Local environmentalists launched a protest walk in South Africa on February 1. This culminated in the group handing in a petition today.

The document from the San people said the area in which ReconAfrica was working was a “most sacred homeland”. The company did not consult with local people, the petition complained.

It went on to say Namibia and Botswana were breaking their international commitments, in addition to domestic laws...

Another local group, Saving Okavango’s Unique Life (SOUL), alleged ReconAfrica had not lined a containment pool at the well. The company’s plans did not explicitly state this would be done, but did say that it would not “allow any hazardous substance to soak into the soil”.

ReconAfrica had told National Geographic in October 2020 that it would line pits and dispose of cuttings properly...

Local groups are concerned that the Canadian company will carry out fracking in the region. ReconAfrica has denied this repeatedly and it would be economically challenging given the lack of local infrastructure...

ReconAfrica’s local subsidiary is acquiring data and commissioning an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the area, the ministry said. These are the steps that lead to seeking a licence to drilling.

WWF Namibia has called for a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) on the cross-border area, rather than “piecemeal EIAs”. The NGO said Namibia should not approve any more EIAs, or further work, in the basin.

Progress should be contingent on a “holistic SEA … and the full set of exploration implications assessed”.