The two green regions of Kavango offer more than just fertile land. There are precious minerals beneath the earth. And, by all indications somewhere between the two regions of Kavango West and East there could even be diamond and hydrocarbon deposits.
The latest unconfirmed news is that the diamond deposits are either not sufficient for commercial mining or are not of high enough quality to warrant extracting them from the ground. There is of course fear of what damage intensive mining activities could inflict on the area’s ecosystem.
Nevertheless, the De Beers Group, which has been conducting diamond exploration work in Kavango East, confirmed to New Era Weekend that it has since ceased with its activities. The group would not give reasons for its decision, merely saying: “De Beers, through Namdeb Diamond Corporation, conducted exploration work around the north-eastern parts of Namibia. Following extensive geological analysis work, we discontinued that programme in 2009.”
The group did also not divulge how much it spent on exploration activities in the north-eastern regions, besides saying it “continuously invests substantial amounts of money in exploration work and in 2016 our exploration expenditure exceeded N$300 million”.
Meanwhile exploration activities for oil and gas in the area continue. “We are doing a seismic survey to consolidate and have a better understanding. It is too early to say something about the results or to say there is oil, and more is still to be done,” said the ACREP representative Hermenegildo Gervasio, who is also a geophysicist.
ACREP is the Angolan oil and gas company with the rights in Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 70 covering Blocks 1718 and 1818, which are in Kavango West.
“We did preliminary studies to see the potential before deciding to go ahead with the project – we also did an aerial gravity and magnetic survey in 2015,” said Gervasio.
The exploration is being done some 50 km south of Nkurenkuru, going through Gava and Mupurara villages all the way south till the Charly cutline.
“This exploration does not mean there is oil, but there is progress being made with the exploration,” said Sarmad Nabti from the French exploration firm CGG, which has been contracted by ACREP to conduct the seismic survey in the area. The firm is using seismic vibrators to inject low-frequency vibrations into the earth. The results would show whether what lays beneath the surface is black gold or just other non-commercial deposits.
“We could find oil but it could be a small amount not worth extracting or not market viable,” commented Nabti.
“This will be a national project if the exploration goes well,” said the Governor of Kavango West Region, Sirkka Ausiku. “But we would want our local communities to benefit through employment. The entire Namibia should benefit from this if the oil is found. For now we are just hopeful that the oil will be found to benefit our people,” said Ausiku. – This story was first published in New Era Weekend edition of 11 – 17 March.