OUR OCEAN IS THE CLIMATE HERO. STOP THE OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION APPLICATION ER236

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OUR OCEAN IS THE CLIMATE HERO - STOP THE OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION APPLICATION ER236

We call on the Minister for the Environment Barbara Creecy, to withdraw her approval of Italian oil corporation ENI and Sasol’s application (ER236), for exploratory drilling offshore of Richards Bay and Scottburgh. This application is part of the offshore oil and gas sector of a government economic development program, Operation Phakisa.

These companies, with poor safety reputations[i], were given the go ahead to drill at record depths[ii] in the Agulhas Current, known to be one of the strongest in the world. The KZN wells are planned to be between 3,8 – 4,1 km deep offshore Richards Bay and 5,1 km offshore Scottburgh.

Operation Phakisa promises to deliver nine billion barrels of oil, and eleven billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas, from the offshore wells. However, by continuing with the offshore oil and gas development program, the minister is failing to properly manage our exposure to climate and pollution risks. Offshore application ER236 risks:

  • Melting over a hundred square kms of Arctic ice
  • Acoustic pollution and trauma from seismic surveys[iii]
  • Oils spills[iv] and chronic pollution[v]
  • Introducing invasive species[vi] 
  • Disturbing our coastal and marine ecosystems[vii]

South Africa is heating at twice the global average and is emitting twice the global average CO2. It is likely we will reach a 3℃ increase this decade, becoming hotter and drier, with more extreme weather shocks.

THE OCEAN IS THE REASON WE ARE ALIVE:

  • It has absorbed 90% of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions, but cannot absorb all the heat added by these emissions.
  • Surface temperature is heating up 24 times faster than a few decades ago and keeps accelerating.
  • Absorbing CO2 causes water to become more acidic, corroding protective animal shells and corals.
  • More CO2 affects sea water circulation by slowing it down, causing less oxygen circulating. Without oxygen even more species will die.

The Minister for the Environment has completely side-stepped the critique that there has been no Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the offshore oil and gas sector in South Africa – broadly recognized as an important tool to promote sustainability-driven decision making[viii]. She has failed to explore energy alternatives and excluded the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of this exploration to our climate future.  

The Minister for the environment’s approval does nothing to protect the already heavily compromised sea, upon which we all rely, nor break down the massive political barriers to decarbonising electricity generation in South Africa.

As South Africans we demand a reduction of emissions by ½ by 2030. We demand Minister Creecy withdraw her approval of ER236 before it’s too late.

SIGN THE PETITION NOW!

Sources: 
[i] ENI ‘s Cairo rig caught fire. See Fire that sank rig damages ENI-BP platform off Egypt (2004, August 12). Oil & Gas Journal. https://www.ogj.com/drilling-production/production-operations/article/17291145/fire-that-sank-rig-damages-enibp-platform-off-egypt

ENI’s Angola drill rig sunk; Saipem was under their control at the time. See Saipem Rig Sinks Offshore Angola. One Person Missing (2013, July 2). Offshore Energy. https://www.offshore-energy.biz/breaking-saipem-rig-sinks-offshore-angola-one-person-missing/

ENI/ Shell Nigeria corruption case which involved $1.1bn in bribes – see Le Bec, C. ( 2020, September 24). Nigeria Eni/Shell corruption case: Future of Eni’s CEO at stake. The Africa Report. https://www.theafricareport.com/43023/nigeria-eni-shell-corruption-case-future-of-enis-ceo-at-stake/

For Sasol’s misspending at Lake Charles chemical complex in Louisiana see Theunissen, G. (2020, October 2). A billion here and a billion there: how Sasol came to sell 50% of its Lake Charles megaproject. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.co.za/what-you-need-to-know-about-sasols-huge-lake-charles-project-2020-10

For Sasol’s the toxic air and water pollution see Bega, S. (2019, September 25). Sasol: SA’s carbon criminal. IOL. https://www.iol.co.za/saturday-star/news/sasol-sas-carbon-criminal-33534151

[ii] The KZN wells are planned to be between 3,800 – 4,100 metres deep offshore Richard’s Bay and 5,100ms offshore Scottburgh. Angola Block 48 is currently the deepest well at 3,628 meters.
[iii] e.g. Hildebrand 2009
[iv] (e.g. Joye et al. 2016)
[v] (e.g. Johansen et al. 2017).
[vi] (e.g. Yeo et al. 2009)
[vii] Kark et al. 2015; Cordes et al. 2016).
[viii] (Lamorgese et al. 2015)