The Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources recently granted licenses to two more companies to explore for underground gas in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
“The ministry recently issued two more prospecting licenses for coal bed methane within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to Australia’s Tlou Energy and to African Coal and Gas Corp,” said the Ministry in a press release. The granting of new licenses has once again sparked fierce debate over the potentially negative environmental impact that exploration for coal bed methane could have on the world’s second-largest game reserve.
Two years ago, a number of local and international publications reported about wide spread environmental damage at CKGR because of alleged ‘fracking’ activities. Fracking is a technique used to extract underground shale gas by digging deep wells and pumping in large amounts of water mixed with chemicals under high pressure to crack the rock. Critics of the process say it could contaminate water sources in the heavily cattle and wild life populated CKGR. However, the Ministry said it has not issued any mining licenses for gas extraction, such that there is currently no commercial production involving fracking at the CKGR.
Last year, a documentary funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) exposed ‘fracking’ activities in Botswana and CKGR. OSISA has also dismissed government’s claims that there are no commercial plans yet, saying the Botswana government has been quietly pushing ahead with plans to produce natural gas and drilling and fracking are already under way.