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Concern over seismic survey for offshore oil and gas in the Northern Cape

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Just a few months after two seismic surveys were barred by the courts, another energy company has allegedly received authorisation to conduct exploration in the Northern Cape.

File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

YET ANOTHER energy company appears to be exploring for offshore oil and gas, this time in the Northern Cape, merely a few months after two seismic surveys were banned by the courts on the shores of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Privately owned energy company Tosaco Energy, based in Johannesburg, is alleged to have recently obtained authorisation to conduct a seismic survey in Block 1, which starts from Alexander Bay to Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape.

However, fisherfolk and environmentalists have raised concerns that proper consultation processes with the communities were not followed.

Green Connection’s community outreach co-ordinator, Neville van Rooy, said they were also seriously concerned about the impacts of the authorisation on affected communities.

“It is unbelievable and shocking that Tosaco has now been given the green light to blast up the ocean, even though affected communities in the region feel that public participation processes were far from meaningful,” he said.

The Western Cape High Court last month halted Australian geoscience company Searcher from continuing with a seismic survey off the West and South-West, pending the outcome of its legal challenge.

In February, petroleum giant Shell lost its bid to appeal against an interim interdict preventing it from commencing a seismic survey along the Wild Coast for seismic survey operations.

Van Rooy said during interactions in Kleinzee and Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, the concerned communities had requested that environmental impact management services (EIMS) come back and do proper consultation, because most of the fisherfolk were not available to attend meetings.

“They need to hold meetings at more convenient times, taking into account any and all limitations and challenges facing these communities.

“Secondly, while there was a meeting held on Zoom, communities once again pointed out that this cannot be considered to be sufficient public participation, since many fisherfolk cannot afford all the costs and equipment associated with connecting via the internet.

“Since so many affected people have been excluded from meaningful participation in the environmental impact assessment (EIA), communities believe that this approval is not only unacceptable but also illegal and are willing to pursue the matter all the way to court.”

Tosaco could not be reached by deadline.

Director at Masifundise Development Trust, Naseegh Jaffer said they have already submitted an appeal to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE) to voice their “disagreement with Tosaco being given a permit to go ahead with seismic blasting activities”.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMRE) referred questions to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA).

PASA did not respond by deadline.

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