Daily Management Review

Fracking Rights Sold Out in a National Park in Botswana


Fracking Rights Sold Out in a National Park in Botswana
Recent report suggests that right frack for shale gas have been sold by the Bostwana government quietly in one of Africa’s largest protected conservation areas, reports The Guardian.
The area in question is the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, with a total area of over 36,000 sq km, on the border with South Africa. Gemsbok desert antelope, black-maned Kalahari lions and pygmy falcons are the treasured and protected species in this park.
After reports of the deal there is widespread concern among the conservationists and top park officials, who were not informed of the fracking rights sale, about the impact of drilling on wildlife.
Even though the sale has not been reported previously, reports suggest that prospecting licences for more than half of the park were granted to a UK-listed company called Nodding Donkey in September 2014. Earlier this month the company changed its name to Karoo Energy.
While the Guardian has reported to have found oil sediment on the ground near a popular camp site, park officials denied that any drilling had yet taken place. The newspaper reported that a drill hole that looked like it had been drilled recently oozed an overwhelming smell of tar and a drill stem. It is not known who had carried out the drilling or when.
Scientist Gus Mills, who had worked and lived in Kgalagadi for 18 years studying cheetahs and hyenas, says that he is worried about the impact on wildlife and environment.

“The development that is going to have to go on there, with infrastructure that has to be moved in, seems to be yet another nail in the coffin of wild areas in the world,” Mills says.
There could be several impacts on the water sources of the park, says Dr Peter Apps, who studies large predators for the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust.
Apps believes that the large carnivores, an apex species would tend to suffer more than other species if companies develop commercial gas wells in the park.
Officials of in-charge of the wild life park such as Ben van Eerden, the tourism manager for the South African side of the park, and Leabaneng Bontshetse, the Botswana Kgalagadi park manager, were not aware of licences being issued.
“We haven’t seen any licences being issued, we haven’t been told of anything and there is no company drilling in the park,” said Bontshetse.
“I am surprised and I am shocked,” he said while expressing concerns that the Botswana department of minerals may have already issued licenses.
More than half of the Kgalagadi park on the Botswana side was up for sale to gas prospecting companies last year, according to a map of the 2014 drilling licenses. 

It had acquired three fracking licences covering 29,291, 34,435 and 23,980 sq km in September 2014 through two of its majority-owned subsidiaries, Equatorial Oil and Tamboran, the company said in a statement.
The Guardian made several efforts to contact Karoo Energy but the company did not respond. The Botswana government was also approached for comment but did not reply.