By: Selma Taapopi
The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo says international interest in Namibia has grown following offshore oil discoveries. According to Alweendo, the ministry is receiving applications from parties expressing interest in finding oil in the remaining blocks. Alweendo said 32 wells have been drilled and dried in the last 32 years and suddenly after two wells were drilled and dried this year oil was discovered. "In itself, people are realising that there is actually oil in Namibia and therefore people want to come. So we can confirm that yes, since that discovery, we have been having more applications for the blocks that are still available, because as you know those blocks are already there. You just go on the map and see where it is not applied for and you can still apply for that block," said the minister during a media briefing this week where he announced a reduction in both petrol and diesel prices. Alweendo also confirmed that a multinational energy company, Chevron, contacted owners of an existing (oil) block to purchase it. "We can confirm that Chevron has approached owners of an existing block to buy into that block, that we can confirm, not their (Chevron)own application but from an existing block that was already owned by someone" he said. In addition, Alweendo who returned from an oil and gas conference in Senegal further stated that the prospects of a regional oil refinery was discussed. He stated that most of the refineries are in Europe, and it was asked whether it would be a good idea to have regional refineries. However, Alweendo stated that a refinery is a costly exercise but it will allow oil and gas prices to be regulated. He also added having a refinery does not mean that fuel will be cheaper because there are extraction costs involved. Alweendo said talks on the concept were well received by the representatives from various countries, with deliberations further delving into combining financial resources to establish a regional refinery. Furthermore, the minister noted that oil discoveries in Namibian waters would not necessarily translate to cheaper fuel prices at the pump. "What would determine the fuel price is really the extraction cost of the oil because somebody has to take it out of the ground at a cost, and somebody has to buy that oil to put in the refinery and refine that at a cost. What will then be the cost of that? So it won't necessarily be cheap except yes, you are going to cut on the transportation cost," said the Minister.