Read

Search form

Foreign Fracking Company Quietly Buys Rights To Botswana Conservation Park

Foreign Fracking Company Quietly Buys Rights To Botswana Conservation Park
Thu, 12/3/2015 - by Jeff Barbee
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

The Botswana government has quietly sold the rights to frack for shale gas in one of Africa’s largest protected conservation areas, it has emerged.

The Kgalagadi transfrontier park, which spans the border with South Africa, is an immense 36,000 sq km wilderness, home to gemsbok desert antelope, black-maned Kalahari lions and pygmy falcons. But conservationists and top park officials – who were not informed of the fracking rights sale – are now worried about the impact of drilling on wildlife.

Prospecting licenses for more than half of the park were granted to a UK-listed company called Nodding Donkey in September 2014, although the sale has not been reported previously. That company changed its name earlier this month to Karoo Energy.

Park officials said that no drilling has yet taken place, but the Guardian found oil sediment on the ground near a popular camp site. There was an overwhelming smell of tar and a drill stem protruded from an apparently recently drilled hole. It is not known who had carried out the drilling or when.

Scientist Gus Mills worked and lived in Kgalagadi for 18 years studying cheetahs and hyenas. He said 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.”

Dr. Peter Apps, who studies large predators for the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, said drilling could have a range of impacts, notably on water sources in the park.

He said that if companies develop commercial gas wells here “then that is not good for nature conservation, and because large carnivores are an apex species, they tend to suffer more than anything else.”

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 licenses being issued, we haven’t been told of anything and there is no company drilling in the park,” said Bontshetse.

He was concerned that the Botswana department of minerals may have already issued licenses: “I am surprised and I am shocked.”

A map of the 2014 drilling licenses shows more than half of the Kgalagadi park on the Botswana side was up for sale to gas prospecting companies last year.

In a company statement issued in April, Karoo Energy under its previous name of Nodding Donkey said it had acquired three fracking licenses 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 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.

The government previously acknowledged that foreign companies had been fracking for gas in the country after the Guardian uncovered gas developments in other national parks.

Olmo von Meijenfeldt, director of the South African organization Democracy Works, is concerned about the impact on rural communities. “Governments should be reluctant if not downright hostile towards extracting natural resources for a short-term benefit that will contribute to a deterioration of habitat and our long-term capacity for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.”

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Botswana’s growing tourism industry is the second biggest income earner after diamonds and employs 32,000 people.

Mills says he believes that commercial development in the park will make it much less attractive to visitors and “devastate” tourist income. He sees the move as driven by short-term economic motives. “It’s a microcosm of what we are doing to the whole planet, as long as its going to make someone some money that seems to be all that’s important.”

The Guardian

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Twenty states, backed by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, are trying in the courts to dismantle the law by attacking what they see as its Achilles heel: the individual mandate.

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

The Trump administration has backtracked on its policy but offered no immediate plan for reuniting families. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

NGOs say bringing parents and children back together is an enormous puzzle with no clear system from the administration.

EPA, pollution deaths, pollution risks, Donald Trump, Scott Pruitt, respiratory illness

The authors used EPA’s own risk assessments to estimate the number of illnesses and early deaths prevented by clean air and water rules Trump is now trying to erase.

The Associated Press reports that young migrant children forcibly separated from their parents are being sent to facilities that critics described as "prisons for babies." (Photo: @NIJC/Twitter)

Those who have visited the facilites describe "play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis."

Twenty states, backed by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, are trying in the courts to dismantle the law by attacking what they see as its Achilles heel: the individual mandate.

wage theft, corporate crimes, CEO pay,

An eye-opening new report has documented billions of dollars of corporate theft from workers. The government is turning a blind eye.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago
E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

Posted 3 days 19 hours ago
U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. The asylum seekers were then sent to a processing center for possible separation. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A new report confirms that Trump and his advisers had been considering the brutal policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border for as long as they’ve been in power.

Posted 5 days 2 min ago
family separations, ICE, immigrant deportations,

The size and brutality of this particular raid in Ohio, along with the use of military tactics, have shocked even the most seasoned immigrants’ rights activists.

Posted 4 days 5 min ago
occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago
The Trump administration has backtracked on its policy but offered no immediate plan for reuniting families. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

NGOs say bringing parents and children back together is an enormous puzzle with no clear system from the administration.

The Associated Press reports that young migrant children forcibly separated from their parents are being sent to facilities that critics described as "prisons for babies." (Photo: @NIJC/Twitter)

Those who have visited the facilites describe "play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis."

E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

family separations, ICE, immigrant deportations,

The size and brutality of this particular raid in Ohio, along with the use of military tactics, have shocked even the most seasoned immigrants’ rights activists.