Okavango Delta below risk from mining

Q7 Beckett has travelled via South Africa on foot before, however for the indigenous San youth chief, his newest 1 500km protest stroll is his most necessary: saving the Okavango Delta, Africa’s final intact wetland wilderness, from main oil and gasoline growth.

On 1 February, Beckett, joined by a bunch of San indigenous leaders and supporters, left Knysna for the Namibian consulate in Cape City. 

On Monday, they are going to hand over a petition from the San First Individuals of southern Africa objecting to ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gasoline agency, to which Namibia and Botswana have given the inexperienced gentle to scour the Kavango Basin within the Kalahari desert for oil and gasoline. The petition is being despatched to the Botswana authorities.

“Because the custodians of this land for 1000’s of years and the rightful present inhabitants, we’ve by no means been consulted, nor have we given the go-ahead to any entities to prospect for oil and gasoline,” it reads. 

Prospecting and consequent manufacturing will irrevocably injury and remodel the delicate ecosystem on which the San rely. 

The combat for cultural survival resonates with Beckett, whose roots will be traced to the area. “We’re matriarch-led, and I grew up with all these grannies from that space, studying learn how to make medication, learn how to heal individuals and play the bow instrument … Drilling for oil and gasoline will deliver devastation to those communities.”

What’s at stake

ReconAfrica has acquired rights to discover greater than 35 000 sq. kilometres within the Okavango Delta watershed, a Unesco-designated World Heritage Website. 

In response to the agency’s consulting geochemist Daniel Jarvie on its web site, drilling within the Kavango Basin is a no brainer.
“Given the character of this basin and the great thickness, will probably be productive, and I’m anticipating high-quality oil.”

Final month, ReconAfrica began exploratory drilling operations on the primary of three check boreholes in Kawe, within the ephemeral Omatako riverbed in Namibia. 

Opponents say the hunt for oil and gasoline threatens important waterways in Namibia and the Okavango Delta’s arid savannas, dwelling to the world’s largest elephant inhabitants and huge numbers of endangered wildlife. The exploration licence space falls inside the newly-proclaimed Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier space, whereas the biodiversity-rich Okavango river basin is a vital water supply for over 1,000,000 individuals. 

‘No unfavourable impacts on Okavango ecosystem’

Namibia says the proposed exploration actions “is not going to trigger any unfavourable impacts” to the Okavango ecosystem as they aren’t linked to the proposed drilling areas. 

The agency’s exploration licence space initially included the Tsodilo Hills, a Unesco World Heritage Website. Unesco is following the exploration tasks “with attention and concern”.

This week, Botswana’s authorities acknowledged that the exploration licence doesn’t cowl the “core and buffer zones” for the “treasured” Okavango Delta and the Tsodilo Hills Heritage Websites.

Fracking fears

ReconAfrica’s advertising materials refers to traditional and unconventional strategies; the latter consists of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, designed to get well gasoline and oil from shale rock. Public investor paperwork describe how the basin’s Permian petroleum system helps “large-scale unconventional and standard performs”.

Frack Free Namibia & Botswana says it’s essential to stress that ReconAfrica’s final intention is to discover the basin to find out the presence of shale-based oil and gasoline. “This truth has been displayed prominently of their displays to traders in addition to of their employment of senior personnel with in depth fracking expertise.”

ReconAfrica is made up of the who’s who of world fracking, says a conservationist. “These individuals imply enterprise and are simply getting began on the finish of the fossil gas age.”

(John McCann/M&G)

‘We received’t be fracking.’

ReconAfrica spokesperson Claire Preece says its geological and stratigraphic testing nicely programme is for standard oil. “ReconAfrica isn’t fracking. Standard oil and gasoline manufacturing makes use of vertical wells, no fracking and little or no water. The Kavango is a brand new sedimentary basin, and like all different hydrocarbon basins, standard manufacturing is the main focus.” 

Each Namibia and Botswana are involved about “deceptive” info over plans to begin fracking “as this doesn’t kind a part of the permitted programme of exploration”.

Andy Gheorghiu, of Saving Okavango’s Unique Life, says ReconAfrica might want to conduct no less than one fracking operation on the finish of the exploration section to determine whether or not it’s value getting into the manufacturing section.
“In the course of the envisaged 25-year manufacturing interval, the large-scale extraction of shale oil … is not going to be doable with out the in depth use of fracking and the successive industrialisation of the licensed areas.”

He says that fracking entails huge freshwater consumption and competitors with ingesting water wants and irrigation; potential water contamination from fracking chemical substances and the disposal of extremely poisonous wastewater, air air pollution, a big contribution to international warming and doable induced seismicity via the underground injection of wastewater.

‘Wrecking’ the local weather

Opponents, amongst them David van Wyk of the Benchmarks Foundation, have despatched letters to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Accountable Enterprise. “It’s with nice disappointment that we see predatory Canadian companies invading numerous elements of Africa, together with some with essentially the most fragile and delicate ecosystems, to hold on actions that may hurt the local weather and the atmosphere,” it reads.

Botswana and Namibia are signatories to the Paris Local weather Settlement, says the San petition. “Ought to the Kavango basin yield the 120-billion barrels of oil equal predicted by Jarvie, this equates to about 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide: a climate-wrecking venture.” 

Collectively, Botswana and Namibia emit round 13-million tons of carbon yearly. 

Local weather change impacts are far more important for southern Africa, “in comparison with international locations within the north that may profit from the income”. The San have been displaced and scattered to a few of the most inhospitable, unbearably sizzling environments in southern Africa and “even hotter temperatures would forestall habitation”.

Water dangers

Dr Surina Engelbrecht, a geohydrologist on the University of the Free State, is concerned how oil and gasoline exploration may have an effect on groundwater within the shallow water tables of the Omatako river basin. Aquifers in arid areas can’t be cleaned as soon as contaminated, she stresses.

The Okavango river basin continues to be comparatively pristine, however oil and gasoline extraction may have an effect on groundwater ranges and contaminate floor water and groundwater sources, finally reaching the Okavango Delta.

“The poor environmental influence evaluation procedures that have been adopted and the obvious lack of a regional water sources baseline earlier than permitting oil and gasoline exploration, level to a severe lack of knowledge of the doable unfavourable environmental results … on this delicate area.”

However Preece says the water administration plan is targeted on aquifer safety and administration, floor water and drainage administration and “venture no-go buffer zones are applied proactively”. 

Undertaking ‘will deliver growth’

ReconAfrica and the Namibian authorities say the event of a profitable oil and gasoline trade will present jobs, vitality independence, neighborhood water wells and infrastructure.

Max Muyemburuko, the chairperson of Kavango East and West Regional Conservancy and Neighborhood Forestry Affiliation, says locals stay “at midnight” concerning the venture. “We rely on searching, conservation and tourism, that are below risk.”

‘Nonsense and stupidity’

In an e-mail, final month, ReconAfrica’s environmental evaluation practitioner Dr Sindila Myiwa described concerns raised by Muyemburuko concerning the potential impacts of oil and gasoline exploration as “silly” and “nonsense”. 

Muyemburuko had “zero expertise in coaching in oil and gasoline exploration” however now sought to be an “in a single day professional”, he stated.

Public conferences for its deliberate 2D seismic testing programme have been nicely attended, and native communities “totally help the developments being proposed of their areas”. 

On four February, the WWF Namibia revealed a full-page assertion in The Namibian and New Period, calling for a transboundary strategic environmental evaluation earlier than additional exploratory drilling is permitted. 

Important political and financial difficulties may ensue whether it is found late within the course of that there are doubtlessly severe dangers to biodiversity, water safety and native communities’ welfare.