By: Hertha Ekandjo
PDM leader McHenry Venaani has requested that the mines and energy minister renegotiate the oil agreements.
Venaani has asked that the negotiations be done in good faith and from the point of departure that respects the principle that the oil reserves and proceeds should benefit Namibia’s current and future generations.
He said that the government only profiting 10 per cent from the new oil discovery at an exploration block offshore Namibia located in block 2913B was worrisome and unacceptable.
“The government’s control over the natural resources is in a fiduciary capacity, and the aforementioned constitutional provisions can be interpreted. This means that the State is obliged to use that control to advance popular welfare – owed to the social contract between the State and its citizenry,” he said.
Venaani, in a letter dated 23 August 2022, addressed to mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo, mentioned that it was such a great concern to note that TotalEnergies was the operator with a 40 per cent working interest, alongside Qatar Energy (30 per cent), Impact Oil and Gas (20 per cent), leaving the government with a meagre 10 per cent stake.
“This is one documented example of the government having negotiated in ill-faith. Wrongly structured oil exploration agreements have far-reaching consequences,” Venaani said.
Furthermore, he said those unethical practices had grown even larger to the extent that they threatened to hamper development and growth domestically and continentally.
He added that it went without saying that corruption was rife in Namibia and if they concluded agreements that were not favourable to the country’s developmental objectives, Namibia’s oil resources would not benefit its people.
“It is against the backdrop above and in line with national interest that I write to request that all existing and new oil exploration and extraction agreements concluded by the mines and energy minister be made available to the office of the official Opposition,” the letter reads.
According to LPM, Namibia could learn a lot from international best practices such as Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), which was able to amass an asset base of over $1 trillion for its population of an approximated 5.5 million people.
Moreover, he noted that similar fortunes could be achieved for Namibia if they leveraged Norwegian best practices to cautiously use oil to benefit the Namibian economy for current and future generations as enriched by Article 95 (l) of the Namibian Constitution.
“It has been widely reported that an estimated 11 billion barrels in oil reserves have been found off Namibia’s coast, with the first production already planned by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“These findings could potentially put Namibia on par with neighbouring Angola, whose reserves are estimated at around 13 billion barrels and whose production rivals Africa’s top producer, Nigeria,” the letter noted.
He stated that if those Namibian oil resources were used sustainably, they could serve as a solid financial reserve and a long-term savings plan that would benefit current and future generations.
The mines ministry spokesperson Andreas Simon said on Tuesday said they were yet to receive the letter.