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Karpowership SA responds to latest setbacks to its proposed gas-to-power projects

Karpowership liquid natural gas storage ship

Karpowership liquid natural gas storage ship

14th March 2023

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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For three years, gas-to-power supplier Karpowership South Africa (Karpowership SA) has been subjected to multiple allegations about its proposed gas-to-power projects in Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay and the Port of Ngqura, despite the much-needed additional electricity supply it can inject into the grid.

Turkish parent company Karpowership has long been ready to supply 1.2 GW of power to South Africa using ship-mounted gas-to-power plants; however, a series of lawsuits and complaints by environmental groups and rival bidders have continued to hamper its efforts.

The company has, therefore, decided to address shareholders following the latest blow to its efforts – with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) having suspended a secondary environmental-impact assessment (EIA) on the planned 450 MW gas-to-power project, or “powership”, at the Port of Ngqura.

Karpowership SA comments that it is disappointed at the DFFE’s decision to deny the latest EIA on the project, mainly because the company has been diligent and transparent in ensuring all of its projects meet the environmental requirements outlined by the law.

Karpowership SA undertook an enhanced EIA across all three proposed gas-to-power sites, which saw more than 1 300 community members being consulted in a series of hearings.

Over the course of six hearings, more than 30 independent economists, scientists and engineers presented findings to the public that the projects would have minimal adverse impacts on the environment, while they can significantly boost the economy and generate thousands of jobs and investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, in terms of the planned 450 MW Richards Bay gas-to-power project, Karpowership says it became aware of an administrative error regarding the public participation process for the site and, as a result, decided to withdraw its environmental application on March 2, to resolve the compliance issue before resubmitting.

The company explains the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme is a comprehensive and complex process, which has required a significant amount of administrative work to ensure delivery across the three separate sites of Karpowership SA.

The company assures it is working on the error in question and will resubmit the environmental application soonest.

Moreover, Karpowership SA says its EIA for the 350 MW Saldanha Bay powership project has also been suspended owing to “an eleventh hour complaint” by environmental nonprofit organisation The Green Connection.

The organisation alleges that Karpowership SA used the views of commercial fishing companies and aquaculture operators to represent those of smaller operators.

Karpowership SA, through its consultant Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions, has to respond to these allegations by March 17.

The company affirms it actively sought to engage with Green Connection constructively in December last year, having invited the organisation to highlight any third party which may have inadvertently been left out of the engagement process. “Unfortunately, the organisation did not extend the same courtesy to us,” Karpowership SA explains.

While the projects have the backing of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has taken a more cautious approach and says environmental concerns should not be disregarded in addressing the power crisis.

Karpowership SA stresses in its latest release that it remains cooperative with all authorities and committed to ensuring that all its proposed projects meet the country’s strict environmental protection standards.

“South Africa needs businesses like Karpowership SA to bring innovation and expertise to the energy sector. Unless the business climate in the country improves, foreign expertise and technical ability will be hard to come by.

"Ultimately, it is South Africans who will suffer from these delays in getting Karpowership SA’s projects up and running, and providing much-needed power to the country,” the company concludes.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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