Elephants or Oil

20. December 2021

The Globe and Mail description already in its May 29, 2021 publication about the RECON Africa project to drill for Namibian oil, gives the impression of an extraction con job at the expense of the Namibian people and its bio diversity. This suspicion is further confirmed by the National Geographic article of December 1, 2021 with the headlines:

“Oil company accused of drilling in African wildlife reserve, offering jobs for silence”


“Canada-based Recon Africa appears to have flouted Namibian law, legal experts say”

The Canadian oil and gas exploration company Reconnaissance Energy Africa, has drilled its second test well without the required permission inside the protected Kapinga Kamwalye conservancy. This conservancy was established in 2018 to protect wild animals and provide jobs for its 3,700 residents. Recon Africa, with the help of a controversial African businessman,  friend of Namibia’s president, has firmly cemented its prospecting business  into an exploration license covering more than 13,200 sq. miles near the UNESCO World Heritage site of  the Okavango Delta, home to the largest remaining elephant herd in Africa.

Recon is prospecting for oil to sell the results of its exploration to a major oil company for extracting, transporting and refining the alleged oil and natural gas reserves. The enormous expenditures for Recon‘s initial exploration costs and the subsequent investments for the oil extraction and conversion operation are undoubtedly being secured by the Namibian government. Should there be no or little oil, or pricing for these commodities should  turn out be too low for  profitable operations, Namibia will most likely be on the hook for reimbursing  the investors. Even under the most optimistic outlook, initial profits will go first to Recon and its oil company client until the initial investments have been recouped, which could take years.

Beautiful Images of Elephants in Africa’s Okavango Delta. Photo credit: Katarina Brown / Shutterstock

In the meantime, Namibia’s fragile environment and limited water resources will be devastated.  Also, this  destruction will most likely not be limited to Namibia, but probably impact all of the  Okavango Delta by poisoning the river and thus destroying the  sustainable natural resources of the area. The potential damage to the Okavango Delta, will reverse the impressive conservation efforts, particularly those realized by the previous administration in Botswana. Elephants and entire eco-systems depending on their presence will disappear.  Poverty of  Namibia’s indigenous population living within the conservancy will not be improved, as promised by Recon Africa, but will most likely get worse.

Recon’s  sudden drilling within a protected conservancy without  permits, looks very much like a desperate move to demonstrate important Namibian oil reserves before the global negative reaction and various international law suits will halt the entire ill-conceived  venture.