By: Justicia Shipena
Oil and gas companies must decide whether to make a financial investment before Namibian experts can publicly anticipate the growth of the sector, economist and director of Cirrus Capital, Rowland Brow, said in an interview with Eagle FM.
He explained that it is not that economists are unable to predict the industry’s development, but because the sector is currently speculative.
“It is not that we cannot forecast the growth of the oil and gas industry, it is just that we donot publicise those forecasts until a financial investment decision is made by oil and gas companies. It is very speculative [as it is unkown] whether it will actually happen,” Brown said.
As a result of discoveries made by firms like Shell, TotalEnergies and Qatar Energy, Namibia has recently become a hotspot for international oil and gas operators. Another project that drew people’s attention was Namibia’s green hydrogen initiative.
Brown pointed out that it is still very early in the game and that it is so radical if economists predict it as a basic scenario.
“I mean the quantum of growth that we could have is so enormous that it would be very misleading to use it as if it is likely to happen at this point. We do forecast it, we just donot publicise it,” he pointed out.
When asked if the phrase “the oil and gas industry holds potential for Namibia” is an appropriate phrase to use, he explained that the industry has the potential to experience rapid expansion and to significantly increase tax revenues and employment opportunities.
“If there is a financial investment decision made, and if we do start to move towards being an oil and gas producing country, then it will have a very dramatic impact on our economy,”he stated.
Sub-Saharan Africa has enormous opportunities for green hydrogen, according to the African Energy Chamber’s 2023 State of African Energy Outlook report for the first quarter of the year, published in February.
Speaking about whether Namibia expects to invest heavily in oil given the goals towards reducing global CO2 emissions, Brown stated that although the world is moving toward more sustainable practices, oil is not a thing of the past.
“And it won’t be for a long time. There is probably or at least another decade of oil being the dominant field source for the world and I think it will be quite longer than that.
He went on to argue that oil and gas corporations do not spend millions of dollars exploring in Namibian waters just to promise not to invest if something discovered.
“They have made discoveries, the test now is whether if they are commercially viable, then they will definitely invest dramatically in order to turn it into oil production. Namibia would then become an oil producing country.