Another seismic survey in the works, this time off Northern Cape coast

Seismic surveys off the South african coast are being challenged by affected communities.

Seismic surveys off the South african coast are being challenged by affected communities. Supplied/ The Green Connection

  • After courts blocked two seismic surveys off the SA coast, another one is in the works.
  • Tosaco Energy plans a seismic survey off the Northern Cape coast to explore offshore oil and gas.
  • The environmental authorisation for the survey was granted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in March.

After two seismic surveys off the South African coast were temporarily blocked by the courts, another one is planned.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in March granted Tosaco Energy environmental authorisation for the proposed seismic survey, which will take place off the Northern Cape coast, in a permit area which stretches between Alexander Bay and Hondeklipbaai.

Appeals against the environmental authorisation were due on 7 April. The environmental authorisation is part of Tosaco Energy’s application for an exploration right, which has not yet been granted.

 

The proposed seismic survey covers 134 562 hectar

The proposed seismic survey covers 134 562 hectares.

Tosaco Energy is seeking exploration rights in an area that spans over 19 900 square kilometers, but the proposed seismic survey will cover about 1 340 square kilometers of that area, according to the environmental impact assessment documents compiled by Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS). EIMS is an environmental consulting firm.

Just a month ago, the Western Cape High court temporarily blocked a multi-client seismic survey off the country’s West Coast.

Fishing communities had launched the court application to have the court interdict the seismic survey, pending a legal review of the reconnaissance permit in question. The communities put forward that interested and affected parties were not properly consulted and that the required environmental authorisation was not in place.

Searcher Seismic, the geoscience data company that was meant to conduct the survey, has abandoned the project altogether.

Similarly, in December, the Makhanda High Court blocked a seismic survey off the Wild Coast, which was to be conducted on behalf of Shell. Judge Gerald Bloem said that the consultation process was  “flawed”, which meant the exploration right for the project was “unlawful and invalid”.

Neville van Rooy of civil society group the Green Connection said that several communities in the Northern Cape are also taking issue with the consultation process followed by Tosaco Energy. They made submissions in the appeals process.

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