News / Africa

Oil Rush in Africa's Parks Drives Hunt for Eco-friendly Methods

FILE - Workers of Ivory Coast Kuyo pipeline company assemble pipelines in Tiebissou, near Abidjan, the economical capital of Ivory Coast.
FILE - Workers of Ivory Coast Kuyo pipeline company assemble pipelines in Tiebissou, near Abidjan, the economical capital of Ivory Coast.
Reuters
East Africa's oil rush is spreading into parks and protected areas, prompting companies to develop new ways to explore for hydrocarbons without disturbing wildlife and natural treasures such as rare fossils.
 
From Uganda, where France's Total is trying new and less intrusive methods of seismic testing in a national park, to Madagascar, where operations are under way next to a UNESCO site, the industry is working in locations where damage would trigger public outcries.
 
“We can't take anything for granted. We are abutting next to a UNESCO National Park,” said Stewart Ahmed, chief executive officer of Madagascar Oil, which plans the first commercial crude oil production in the impoverished Indian Ocean island state.
 
“We are going to be under scrutiny and our pipelines, for example, will have to skirt around those kinds of areas,” he said on the sidelines of an Africa oil conference organized by Global Pacific & Partners.
 
When an area is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO -the cultural and scientific arm of the United Nations - it  immediately comes under close observation by conservationists.
 
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, next to Madagascar Oil's  operations in a rugged and remote region of the country's west, is known for towering limestone pinnacles and is home to rare wildlife such as the red-fronted brown lemurs.
 
“World Heritage Sites are of particular concern. Many companies are committed to not developing in World Heritage Sites and conservation groups are opposed to developments in such areas,” said Ray Victurine of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society.
 
“So there is a lot of scrutiny with regard to developments there,” he said.
 
Seismic and human evolution
 
In Uganda, where Total is exploring in Murchison Falls National Park, home to elephants, lions and a rare giraffe sub-species, the company is using seismic technology which the industry says is less disruptive than traditional methods for pinpointing oil reserves.
 
Typically, seismic tests involve clearing bush in a straight line and blasting explosives. Echo patterns are then analyzed to detect oil pockets beneath the surface.
 
Total has said that in Murchison it was using “one of the latest cableless technologies available in the industry”.
 
Because cables will not be used to record the seismic signals, the technology, provided by Texas-based FairfieldNodal, does not require the removal of vegetation along the grid line.
 
In northern Kenya, Africa-focused producer Tullow Oil is making seismic adjustments as it works in a region renowned for hominid fossils that shed light on humanity's evolutionary past.
 
Blasting the “missing link” by mistake would not sit well in scientific circles.
 
“We have paleontologists working on our teams in Kenya,” said Paul McDade, Tullow's chief operating officer.
 
Because of advances in technology, seismic lines no longer  have to be perfectly straight as computing can compensate for any bends or detours.
 
“You used to just shoot a straight seismic line. What we do now is send a party out ahead and if they find anything of interest we cordon it off and run the seismic line around it and then carry on,” McDade told Reuters.
 
Seismic technology is becoming less intrusive in other ways as well.
 
Calgary-based Polaris Seismic International has developed seismic equipment employing an “accelerated drop” system, eliminating the need for blasting. It has been used in villages and wildlife areas in Tanzania.
 
Its system, the Explorer 860, thumps the earth with a hydraulically driven hammer. The energy goes straight down so wildlife and people nearby are not disturbed. Geological data is collected by geophones set up on the surface 6 kms (3-1/2 miles) on either side.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid