Are fossil fuel companies scamming investors?
Friday For Future activist Ina Maria Shikongo spoke to FairPlanet about the alleged oil discovery scam orchestrated by Shell and other fossil fuel companies in Namibia, its effects on local people and how it betrays longstanding colonial practices that perpetuate racism and ravage the environment.
Recently, reports emerged of an offshore oil discovery in Namibia, this time by global oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell. Decades of oil and gas searches by several global energy companies have always been empty, pleasing many environmentalists who are convinced that an oil discovery in the southwestern African country would spell disaster. for the environment.
The latest discovery, which even Shell itself admits is not (yet) available, has excited future global fossil fuel investors.
However, some unscrupulous players in the global energy industry have recently appeared to turn Namibia into a resource in their own right, capitalizing on the never-realized promise of a major Namibian oil discovery to boost confidence in their actions in putting a positive spin on the disappointing drill results. , thereby selling bottled smoke to global investors desperate for huge rewards.
One such alleged case is that of a Canadian oil exploration company named Reconnaissance Energy Africa Limited (ReconAfrica), which claimed to have hit the jackpot in the Okavango Basin on the Namibia-Botswana border – a “good news” that saw the company’s value shoot from $191 million to over $1 billion in less than six months. This “stock scam” is now the subject of a trial in the United States after investors who burned their fingers filed a class action lawsuit against ReconAfrica in October last year.
FairPlanet interviewed Namibian environmental activist Ina Maria Shikongo of the Fridays for Future movement in Windhoek, for her take on the latest “Eureka!” Shell cry, which even Namibian government officials are reluctant to comment on with certainty.
FairPlanet: As an environmentalist, what is your reaction to the recent reports of an offshore oil discovery in Namibia?
Ina Maria Shikongo: Personally, I think this is one of the many frauds that companies here get away with.
What do you mean by “fraud”?
Projecting positive oil discoveries without having the real data at hand. [And also] conceal harm and effects.
Why do you think this might be?
This is not the first time that drilling has taken place in this region. Back then there was no oil and now today all of a sudden things have changed when they can make more millions by misrepresenting through the stock market without having need oil.
You mean like the ReconAfrica saga that is currently playing out in court in the United States? Previous reports show that these companies appear to be struggling to find oil, so could there be a possibility that “sources” are publishing these reports in the media to stimulate investor interest?
Yes, that’s what I think. ReconAfrica has been a perfect example of the possibilities in Namibia and the stock market scam is another option to improve one’s income.
With Shell, it’s “Oh yes, we found oil”, so [Tom] Alweendo (the Namibian Minister of Energy) says, ‘but wait, is it commercially viable?’ And without the discoveries, Shell still announces to the world that they have found rich reserves.
It has the same features as ReconAfrica […] put profit numbers before you actually know what’s in the ground. Fellows or investors should beware of these false promises as ReconAfrica has made it possible for others to follow suit.
“Climate justice is racial and social justice!
So are there any concerns at this point from an environmental point of view?
Currently, we have witnessed the spills in Peru and Ecuador. Namibia is highly dependent on its fishery resources and has one of the oldest and most fragile ecosystems. There is no idea of the potential impact of these oil spills, not only on marine life, but also on land once it hits shore.
So we fear what oil extraction could do to Namibia’s pristine coastline?
I can’t imagine it. This will certainly impact marine life and the ocean – being one of the biggest carbon sinks – we need to protect it, especially [here in] Namibia, where we are already seeing ongoing droughts in parts of the country.
Moreover, we forget that Shell was one of the worst collaborators of the apartheid regime (which occupied Namibia militarily) and financed the South African army at the time, even after the international embargo had been imposed in the country because of its position on human rights. and racial rights in Namibia, not to mention the illegal occupation of Namibia by the South African apartheid regime.
The same people [politicians] who apparently fought in the liberation struggle are now in bed with the companies that got them out of Namibia in the first place.
Isn’t this the irony of the results of the policy of African liberation? The same is also happening in South Africa.
Shell has been ordered to cut emissions in the Netherlands, [which is] why now they’re moving their headquarters to London so they can keep looting while promising to cut emissions on social media.
Why do you think this is so?
Because today development is rooted in colonial practices, making Africa believe that we need these resources to catch up with the global north, when this wealth was only possible through colonialism.
Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa have the highest unemployment rates on the continent and yet are very mineral rich countries so why have they not benefited the people to date when at least during the apartheid era, Namibians got housing and did not have to pay for water? Climate justice is racial and social justice!
Image by Peter Prokosch / GRID-Arendal