Are you gassed about drilling for oil along the coast? Then attend this meeting

Stock Image: Source, pixabay.com

WHETHER coastal residents are in fear of the equivalent of a Deepwater Horizon event – the infamous rig which exploded, killing 11 platform workers – and possible future rig workers being put at risk or simply have the ocean’s biodiversity and conservation in mind remains to be seen as oil and gas companies have their eyes set on exploiting the minerals of the ocean.

However, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance’s (SDCEA) stance on offshore oil and gas drilling is certainly set. For years now, tests have been conducted along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal to determine the presence of gas and oil which, if found, could lead to potentially irreversible damage to both marine life and coastal communities, if drilled.

SDCEA is calling on coastal communities to join them for a meeting which will also be attended by Jon Harris, the executive vice-president of Upstream at Sasol Ltd. Mr Harris is expected to discuss the company’s stance on offshore oil and gas drilling.

The meeting will be held at the Austerville Civic Centre, 6 Percy Johnson Street, Austerville, Durban on May 17 at 9am.

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According to SDCEA, Sasol Africa Ltd and Eni, an Italian oil and gas corporation, are collaborating in a project to explore for oil and gas along the coast of the province. Both Sasol Africa Ltd and Eni are said to be hopeful of locating massive oil and gas reserves at a depth of some 3 800 to 4 800 metres.

SDCEA’s project officer, Sherelee Odayar says: “Eni and Sasol are among the most abusive emitters of greenhouse gases and burning fossil fuels is the most important contributor to climate change, including extreme weather, sea level rise and ocean acidification. 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. One of the many objectives of Operation Phakisa is to locate and drill a target of 30 exploration wells before 2024.”

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SDCEA is opposing the exploration because of the potential impact on the marine environment. The SDCEA highlighted that marine ecosystems along the coast of KZN are critically important to marine life as well as coastal communities, most of which rely on revenue from both domestic and international tourists, especially Umkomaas and Scottburgh.

Concerns were also raised in terms of the livelihood of fishermen. “Opening offshore areas to drilling risks permanent damage to KZN’s coastline and the marine environment,” said Ms Odayar.

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  AUTHOR
Juan Venter
Reporter

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