Despite growing concerns about the future of the Okavango Delta regarding petroleum exploration activity around the region, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi, insists the activities will take place in the delta and Tsodilo heritage sites.
In June last year, a Canadian junior oil and gas company, Reconnaissance Energy Africa or Recon Africa announced that it has been granted a petroleum license in north-western Botswana for 2.45 million acres (9,921 km2).
The move by the government of Botswana has attracted backlash from environmentalists with fears that such activities will temper with the Okavango ecosystem.
In his effort to dispel suggestions that the Okavango Delta’s future which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is under threat, Moagi told local and international media on Thursday that the company will carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before any drilling activity could take place.
He says the EIA would be approved by the Department of Mining which falls under his ministry.
According to Lefoko, the company has been awarded a four-year exploration license with no physical activity during the period. “They will be doing desktop activities in the first two years before they arrive at a point where they need to get underground which would be subject to the result of EIA,” said Lefoko.
Meanwhile, Lefoko said hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is not allowed in Botswana after concerns have been raised that Recon Africa will carry out its mining activities through this process.
Fracking is defined as a process of drilling into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed to the rock to release gas.
With Recon Africa reportedly at the initial stages, Moagi said their findings will inform the next stage of the project.
However, the terms of the agreement state that upon declaration of commercial production by Recon Africa, the company holds the right to enter into a 25-year production license with a 20-year renewal period.
Besides holding an exploration license in Botswana, Recon Africa started exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the North-Eastern region of Namibia which forms part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).
Lefoko said Botswana will learn from Namibia’s drilling activities and emphasized that life around the prospecting area would have to co-exist with these operations.
Efforts to get a comment from Recon Africa drew a blank after the company spokesperson, Claire Preece had not responded to The Voice enquires two weeks later.