Sasol Africa Ltd and Eni, an Italian Oil & Gas Corporation, are collaborating in a project to explore for oil and gas along the KwaZulu Natal coast, hoping to locate massive oil and gas reserves under the seabed at depths of between 3,800m – 4,800m.
This project, which is one of many under the auspices of Operation Phakisa aims to tap into the economic potential of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (shoreline to the continental shelf and beyond). One of the many objectives of Operation Phakisa is to locate and drill a target of 30 exploration wells before 2024.
In KwaZulu-Natal, it is recognized that healthy marine ecosystems are critically important to marine life and to the coastal communities whose economies rely on tourism, fishing and recreational activities. Thus opening offshore areas to drilling, risks permanent damage to KwaZulu Natal’s coastline and the marine environment.
Expanded or routine offshore drilling poses the risk of oil spills ruining our beaches, bringing harm to those who live, work and vacation along the coasts, as well as harming habitats critical to plants and animal species. South African oceans host a variety of endangered species which can run the risk of extinction if exposed to offshore drilling.
Desmond D’Sa, environmental activist, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said the report was misleading. “There are numerous concerns that we have raised regarding the oil and gas exploration activities proposed for our coast and find many glaring discrepancies throughout all the processes thus far concerning these activities.
“If the drilling were allowed to go ahead it would destroy a large area of our beautiful coastline. Why aren’t the experts here to explain what the risks are. We did explain to them that this project cannot go ahead. I have travelled to many countries where there were drilling operations and it is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Let us tell the Petroleum Agency South Africa and the Department of Mineral Resources not to grant permission to these oil giants who want to exploit the beautiful oceans of South Africa.
“Our coast could be subject to huge oil spills equivalent to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with calamitous long-term costs for the tourism and fishing industries. If these plans were to go ahead, the climate crisis, which is not factored in and taken seriously, would be intensified and South Africa’s own carbon-budget strategy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% in 2020 would not be achieved. The climate crisis is, in fact, a reality and should be taken seriously – now more than ever,”