Govt gives TotalEnergies green light to search for oil, gas between Cape Town, Agulhas

21st April 2023

By: News24Wire


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The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has granted TotalEnergies environmental authorisation to conduct exploratory drilling off the southwest coast.

Interested and affected parties have 20 days, from 20 April, to appeal the decision with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment.

The DMRE had notified TotalEnergies of its decision on 17 April, according to SLR Consulting, the environmental assessment practitioner for the energy company.

TotalEnergies would be able to drill up to five exploration wells within the area, known as Block 5/6/7. The block overlaps with the Orange Basin, where there have been two major oil finds off the coast of Namibia.

Total holds rights to the exploration block, along with Shell and PetroSA.

The area covers 10 000 km2 and lies roughly between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas. It is 60km from the coast at its closest point and 170km from the coast at its furthest.

The exploration area is about 10 000 km2 roughly between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas.Supplied SLR Consulting- draft scoping report.

The proposed drilling is planned from the fourth quarter of this year to the second quarter of 2024. The drilling and testing are expected to take three to four months for each well.

After considering submissions for the project, the DMRE concluded that all the prescribed procedural requirements were followed by TotalEnergies.

It also noted that the public consultation process was also compliant with regulations.

This has been the undoing of companies like Shell and Searcher looking to conduct seismic surveys for the purpose of exploration off the South African coast. In separate cases where the granting of environmental authorisation was challenged, the court found that the companies did not conduct adequate public consultation processes.

The DMRE also found that impacts from drilling range from "negligible to low significance" with mitigation. It also noted the impact of an unplanned event like a blow-out – or the uncontrolled release of oil from a well – would be high, but this event is "very unlikely". The DMRE is satisfied that TotalEnergies has strategies in place to deal with a blow-out, should it occur.

Based on its assessment, the DMRE said that it is satisfied the proposed activities would not conflict with the environmental laws. And "will not result to (sic) any detrimental risks to the environment and public."

Environmental justice group Green Connection will be studying the decision with a view to appealing it.

Edited by News24Wire



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