Namibian Oil: “We’re Not Looking for a Knight in Shining Armour” - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

Namibian Oil: “We’re Not Looking for a Knight in Shining Armour”

By Toyin Akinosho, in Windhoek

The Namibian government is keen on accelerated development of the string of huge oil and gas discoveries made offshore the country in the last two years.

The country acknowledges that the path to crude oil development is in early stages and the institutional framework and the Namibian capacity in the sector are a work in progress, but the authorities have signaled that they are neither desperate nor despondent.

“The investors we seek to attract are those who agree that the investment must result into a mutually rewarding relationship that benefits both the Namibian people and the investor”, Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy, told delegates at an annual energy conference in Windhoek, the country’s capital.  “Not only will the investor earn a return on his investment, but the investment, in itself, would have assisted to transform the economy into a more complex and dynamic one – something that will better serve humanity.

“It is the savvy investor we would like to attract to our shores, and not a knight in a shining armour who is coming to rescue us from a situation of hopelessness”.

Alweendo, a graduate of Commerce from the South African University of Witwatersrand and the first Namibian national to be the Governor of his country’s Central Bank (1997-2010), said the government had accepted companies who hold oil and gas licences, “to collaborate with us and in return we expect that you earn your license to operate.

“I ask that you tune out the barrage of noise about how Namibia lacks the necessary expertise, or capital, or infrastructure to build a successful oil and gas industry. We want you to adopt a tenacious persistence to make things happen and use your unique perspectives to develop Namibia-specific strategies that will succeed”.

Since the announcement of the basin opening discovery of the Graff accumulation by Shell in February 2022, there have been reportedly bigger finds in the deepwater Orange Basin by (again) Shell, TOTAL, and (the Portuguese explorer) Galp Energia. These subterranean hydrocarbon tanks are now estimated, by the authorities, as collectively holding in excess of 4Billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent.

The industry and the government are “still assessing the commercial viability of these exciting finds”, Alweendo explained. However, “we are confident that the early projections will prove accurate, and that we need to prepare for a hydrocarbon bounty that will turn Namibia into a major oil & gas producer.”

The minister turned on the pressure.

“To those who have made commercial discoveries, we want you to fast-track field development for all discoveries. Although I consider myself a pragmatist, the fact is that we need the resources out of the ground for the oil & gas industry to flourish”, Alweendo told the 1,000 delegates from around the world, including industry professionals from Angola, Nigeria and South Africa (in Africa); France, Britain and Portugal from Europe; the United States, Canada and Brazil from the Americas.

“We need to develop plans now to speed up production as soon as the discoveries are determined commercially viable”.

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