Greenpeace skewers South Africa’s case for oil drilling
By Paul Burkhardt
JOHANNESBURG - As Mauritius suffers a damaging oil spill, South Africa has welcomed a Total SE rig to resume drilling in the deep water and strong currents off the continent’s southern tip.
The government in Johannesburg said the exploration is vital. Development of a significant deepwater discovery made in the area last year “will further enable South Africa to diversify its energy mix,” said Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy.
That argument doesn’t withstand scrutiny, according to environmental group Greenpeace.
“South Africa does not have any further refinery capacity to accommodate what might be found,” the group said in a statement. Developing and exporting crude to global markets won’t reduce the country’s dependence on fuel imports, it said.
Literally in the background, Mauritius is cleaning up thousands of barrels of oil that spilled earlier this month when a vessel ran aground off the island nation’s coast. Mantashe said the South African government will ensure exploration won’t come at the expense of the environment.
“Oil comes with a lot of risks, complications and negative impacts, whether you drill, carry or burn it,” said Greenpeace.