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Home » A Canadian oil firm thinks it has struck big. Some fear it could ravage a climate change hotspot

A Canadian oil firm thinks it has struck big. Some fear it could ravage a climate change hotspot

A Canadian oil firm thinks it has struck big. Some fear it could ravage a climate change hotspot

Kavango East, Namibia (CNN)Syringa trees rise out of the Kalahari sand in the wild expanse of Kavango East, as the humid heat warns of afternoon showers. It's easy to imagine this place has looked the same for a hundred years.

Except, that is, for the road. Recently widened, graded and ramrod straight, new roads like this mean change is coming.
Carved out of the trees and surrounded by a chain-link fence, that change comes as a shock: a giant oil rig towers above these flat lands, dwarfing the trees.

The oilfield that ReconAfrica wants to harness is immense. The firm has leased more than 13,000 square miles, or some 30,000 square kilometers, of land in Namibia and neighboring Botswana.

The find -- potentially containing 12 billion barrels of oil -- could be worth billions of dollars. And some experts believe the oil reserves here could be even bigger.

"We know we have discovered a new sedimentary basin. It's up to 35,000 feet deep and it's a large and very expansive basin," says Craig Steinke, the co-founder of ReconAfrica.

Behind him, a team is operating a thousand horsepower rig capable of reaching depths of 12,000 feet. Even with Covid-19 lockdowns, they are working fast.

Steinke is confident; he says a detailed aeromagnetic survey shows the basin is large enough and deep enough to contain oil. "Every basin of this depth in the world produces commercial hydrocarbons. It just makes sense," he said.

In this northeastern corner of Namibia, on the borders of Angola and Botswana, a Canadian oil company called ReconAfrica has secured the rights to explore what it believes could be the next -- and perhaps even the last -- giant onshore oil find.

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