Oil Meeting Beckons for Namibia

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Cabinet has approved Namibia’s participation as an observer at the African Petroleum Producing Countries Conference expected to take place in Angola next month. This follows the Angolan Oil Minister Desiderio Costa’s visit to Namibia a week ago. Angolan Press AttachÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© in Namibia Antonio Pimenta confirmed his minister was in the country a week ago to extend an invitation to the Minister of Mines and Energy Erkki Nghimtina to attend the conference as an observer. Apart from that, the two ministers looked at possibilities of Namibia becoming a member of the African Oil Producing Countries Association (APPA) that currently has 12 state members. Minister Nghimtina yesterday confirmed to New Era that his Angolan counterpart Costa was in the country to invite Namibia to the conference, and on Tuesday Cabinet approved Namibia’s attendance as an observer. The Minister of Mines views this invitation as good for a country like Namibia that has potential oil reserves such as the Namibe basin, Orange basin and Walvis Basin among others. The invitation was extended in consideration that gas and oil if explored would bring positive benefits to the country and its economy, the minister added. “The benefit of this is that we will be entitled to get advice on oil and gas from other countries, and learn how they are doing things should one day Namibia get oil,” he said. Last week, the largest diversified resources company BHP Billiton reported that it has identified oil and gas opportunities off the South African and Namibian coastline. The general manager for petroleum in Southern Africa was at a conference held in South Africa last week quoted as saying that his company is currently targeting exciting exploration benefits in the Orange basin offshore Namibia though he could not clarify when drilling is likely to start. Though the country is not producing oil at the moment, Nghimtina says, the ambitious Kudu Gas Project once it becomes fully operational would enable Namibia to join APPA. The minister was also hopeful, saying Namibia has about seven basins, that could possess potential oil reserves. As part of the country’s ambitious target to explore oil mining, the ministry last year met the target and issued six petroleum exploration licences to businesses. Though these licences were issued, Nghimtina was quick to indicate that none of the awarded companies have yet indicated the discovery of oil, adding that it is a long process that might take two to three years before something tangible comes out. The conference would discuss issues pertaining to production and refining, new techniques to reduce coastal oil spills and the use of satellite imaging in the oil industry. Other issues will include environmental protection and ways of preventing oil accidents. APPA is an inter-governmental organisation comprising 12 African petroleum-producing countries, namely Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, CÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚´te d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, GSPLAJ (Libya) and Nigeria.