Namibia: Oil Driller Announces Petroleum System At Second Well

An oil drill in Namibia's Kavango Basin.

RECONNAISSANCE Energy Africa (ReconAfrica) announced the finding of a working petroleum system at its second drill well (6-1), which it says again confirms a working petroleum system in the Kavango Sedimentary Basin.

"Based on initial analysis of this first section, ReconAfrica is pleased to report 134 metre (440 feet) of light oil and gas shows from the 6-1 well. The shows are similar in character to those seen in the 6-2 well, 16 kilometres to the south.

"This second well (6-1), like the first well (6-2), in the same sub-basin, shows clear evidence of a working conventional petroleum system," the Canadian oil and gas company said in a statement on Thursday.

ReconAfrica spud its second well in early May, and says it is on schedule to finish drilling operations of the 6-1 well by the end of this month.

Jim Granath, the ReconAfrica director, said the finding of many oil and gas shows with such variety in the first two wells is remarkable.

"It is highly encouraging to see clastic and thick carbonate sections which appear to have similar reservoir characteristics as observed in many other petroleum provinces," Granath said.

ReconAfrica will now do a scientific analysis of these findings and said it has added scientific analysis to its already robust programme of data capture and analysis for the 6-1 well. This includes analysing natural gas composition.

"[This will include] capture of natural gas samples using IsoTubes technology to enable analysis of natural gas composition," the statement detailed.

ReconAfrica expects the complete analysis of these two wells by the end of July.

"The 6-1 and 6-2 wells are in the same sub-basin, one of five major sub-basins of the larger, more laterally extensive Kavango Sedimentary Basin. The upcoming 2D seismic survey will tie in the data from these two wells and provide the first regional interpretation of the overall basin," ReconAfrica explained.

Despite contention from interested parties and members of local communities in the Kavango East region where ReconAfrica is undertaking its oil exploration activities, ReconAfrica is adamant that it is proceeding with support from community members and local government.

The Kavango East governor's office last week threw its weight behind the Canadian company, pledging full support of the company's oil exploration activities.

Specifically, the governor's office disputed a National Geographic report detailing that ReconAfrica might have fraudulently misled investors by misrepresenting its work on the project, according to allegations lodged in a whistleblower complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the statement, Kavango East governor Bonifasius Wakudumo said the article does not reflect the integrity and business practices of ReconAfrica in the region.

"In all ReconAfrica's dealings with our office, local and traditional authorities, the company has done everything legally and transparently, respecting all levels of authority and the expectations of our communities.

"We are pleased with ReconAfrica's approach to working closely and in constant consultation with our office, the traditional leadership, local authority and the community. This is only the beginning stages and we have already started to experience the positive economic and social impact of the project in our regions," he said.

When probed about the purported positive economic and social impacts, Wakudumo cited various donations and employment opportunities.

"ReconAfrica has contributed immensely towards food donation to the affected communities during Covid-19. They also donated medical equipment to Rundu hospital.

"They've drilled three boreholes for remote communities which had no access to potable water, and SMEs are benefiting in terms of work. To me that is something for the region," Wakudumo told this newspaper in a brief telephone interview on Thursday.

The governor said local people are employed based on the work available on ReconAfrica's sites.

"There are local contractors hired to transport the workforce and to offer security services of guarding premises where they operate. Construction work on the sites also goes to local communities," he detailed.

Environmental and community activists, who are against the company's activities in the region, have in the past said promises of employment are misleading.

In an earlier exchange with community activist Rinaani Musutua, The Namibian was informed that ReconAfrica employed a few local community members for short or temporary stints.

"People think that ReconAfrica is bringing jobs. Some communities are so desperate. The communities there are really marginalised and really left out. There is no development taking place, so they're really hoping that ReconAfrica is going to bring some jobs. But it's actually not going to happen at all.

"What ReconAfrica is doing to give people the impression that they are creating jobs is to employ people for only about two or three weeks on short-term contracts and then they fire them," Musutua said.

Musutua speculated that ReconAfrica does this to inflate its figures on local employment in these communities.

According to ReconAfrica's first progress report on its environment, social and governance (ESG) framework, the oil driller said it has so far employed more than 200 Namibians on its stratigraphic drilling project.

Furthermore, ReconAfrica said it is working with Namibian education institutions to enhance training programmes in Stem (science, technology, engineering and math) as part of its ESG framework, among other things.

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