• What is the Kavango Basin?

Fuel for Thought

What is the Kavango Basin?

Jan 23 2021

While giants like the Permian Basin and Ghawar Field have dominated the oil landscape for years, in 2021 experts are predicting a new player could challenge their reign. Located in the Okavango wilderness region of Namibia and Botswana, the massive Kavango Basin is thought to hold more than 30 billion barrels of crude oil. The field is larger than Belgium, with energy news site Oilprice.com predicting it could be the “largest oil play of the decade” if exploration goes ahead in 2021.

Recon Africa eyes lucrative oil region

Junior oil and gas company Recon Africa is spearheading development in the region, with the company currently licensed to explore more than 35,000 square kilometers of land in Namibia and Botswana. Analysts estimate the company could generate 120 billion barrels of petroleum on just 12% of this footprint, potentially outperforming the oil-rich Permian Basin in Texas if exploration continues.  

While most supermajors have gravitated offshore, analysts say there’s still plenty of opportunity for independent and junior companies that are willing to look. Africa is particularly exciting, with analysts labelling it the “last frontier” of onshore oil exploration.

“Forget about supermajors like Exxon, Chevron when it comes to onshore exploration outside of the United States … they aren’t the ones who make these onshore discoveries work. Instead, you should be looking for locations where independents are out in force looking for the next big thing,” says internationally renowned geochemist Dan Jarvie.

If early exploration is successful, Recon Africa plans to drill “hundreds of wells” across the Kavango Basin. Some will use fracking techniques, a highly controversial practice that sees high-pressure fluid injected into underground shale to create fractures and release oil.

Okavango wilderness region at risk, say environmentalists

While the Kavango Basin could unlock huge profits for Recon Africa, exploration in the area has garnered fierce criticism from environmentalists who say drilling with threaten the pristine Okavango wilderness region. As well as endangering wildlife, campaigners say exploration could contaminate the water resourced of local communities. The region is home to one of the largest herds of African elephants in the world, as well as lions, leopards, giraffes and other rare animals that live within six wildlife reserves. The Tsodilo Hills UNESCO World Heritage site in Botswana also lied within the Kavango Basin.

Recon Africa spokesperson Claire Preece has assured environmentalists there will be “no environmental impact from these wells” and all Namibian regulations and international best practices will be followed, though project remains highly controversial.

As climate change and habitat destruction continues to garner attention, the energy industry is under increasing pressure to adopt greener practices. Find out more about the latest advances being made within the maritime industry in ‘Clean Burning Marine Fuels Making A Difference To Air Quality.

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