New oil, gas exploration survey plan

EIA under way between Knysna and J-Bay

The Pletmos Basin between Knysna and Jeffreys Bay could soon be at the centre of an oil and gas exploration. This comes after an upstream oil and gas company submitted plans to conduct a 3D seismic survey of the area to explore for possible oil and gas reserves.

It is just one of several prospecting activities under way along the Southern Cape coast, with PetroSA being the biggest player in the area.

Sungu Sungu Oil submitted an application for an exploration right for the area, which falls within the 11 224km² Pletmos Basin, which was accepted by the Petroleum Agency South Africa (Pasa) in September.

The company was, however, instructed by Pasa to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and this process, which is being undertaken by SRK Consulting, is under way.

A meeting with interested parties will be held at the Piesang Valley Community Hall in Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday between 3pm and 6pm.

A meeting will take place at the same time on Thursday at the St Francis Bay Village Hall.

The comment period on the EIA, which started on April 12, will be open until May 16.

The basin is located roughly between Knysna in the west and Jeffreys Bay in the east.

The target area is about 12km offshore and reaches up to 60km out to sea east of Plettenberg Bay and west of Cape St Francis.

The target area is about 2 500km² in the basin.

According to the EIA report, offshore seismic surveys are undertaken by using airguns on a survey vessel that can reen lease high-pressure air into the surrounding water and the seabed. The process will take about one to three months.

While no permanent infrastructure is needed for such a project, there are concerns about the environmental impact.

Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum spokesman Basil van Rooyen said the organisation would be opposing the plans.

“There are very few studies available on the impact of seismic surveying. We will not only comment on the plans but also make an objection,” Van Rooysaid. The EIA report revealed that several types of waste, emissions and discharges would be generated during the seismic survey, including noise emissions from the airguns as well as air emissions from the vessels that would be used to carry out the survey.

Key comments and concerns raised by stakeholders so far relate to potential ecological impacts, specifically on marine fauna, due to the generation of underwater noise and the proximity to areas of environmental importance.

Other comments include the potential economic impact if fishing stocks and/or tourism is affected.

“The seismic survey will result in unavoidable adverse environmental impacts, although these are of relatively limited extent, given the limited footprint of the target area, relatively short duration of the survey and transient nature of the seismic survey [no physical infrastructure will be installed].

“Consequently, none of these adverse impacts are considered unacceptably significant and all can be managed to tolerable levels through the effective implementation of the recommended mitigation measures,” the EIA found.

Sungu Sungu faikled to respond to a request for comment.

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