The arrival of the oil and gas drill rig DeepSea Stavanger in Cape Town has triggered oil spill fears among environmentalists. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
The arrival of the oil and gas drill rig DeepSea Stavanger in Cape Town has triggered oil spill fears among environmentalists. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Oil and gas drilling rig off Cape Town coast sparks pollution fears

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Aug 17, 2020

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Cape Town - The arrival in Cape Town of the oil and gas drill rig DeepSea Stavanger, en route to the Brulpadda prospects in the Outeniqua basin off Mossel Bay, has triggered oil spill fears among environmentalists.

The rig has been commissioned by petroleum giant Total and its partners to drill the Brulpadda prospect in Block 11B/12B off the Mossel Bay coast.

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Cape Town, Michael Wolf, said: “Brulpadda is not only a high risk for environmental disasters on our beautiful South African coastline due to the extreme seas in the area and depth of the drilling, it is also at high risk of becoming a stranded, worthless asset before it creates any revenue for the South African state due to ever-increasing international pressure to stop fossil fuel extraction. The project must be stopped.”

Wolf said: “Development of new fossil fuel projects at this time is nothing less than a crime against humanity. Those ignoring these urgent warnings from scientists all over the world will see themselves charged for these crimes in the near future."

The Green Connection, an NGO working to support and empower local communities along country's coastline, urged the government to halt further oil and gas exploration.

Spokesperson Liziwe McDaid said: “Total are seeking a permit to drill an additional 10 wells, 40km to 110km south of Knysna and Mossel Bay in water depths of 600m to 2000m. Oil spills from this offshore drilling could affect the Tsitsikama and Wilderness National Parks and many fish-breeding areas.”

McDaid said: “What is happening to Mauritius is devastating. It could take decades for the ocean and the life it holds, as well as affected Mauritian communities, to bounce back, if they ever will. This should not be happening in 2020 with all we know about the devastating impacts of fossil fuels.”

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said: “The arrival of the drill rig reaffirms confidence in South Africa as an investment destination of choice for the exploration of oil and gas.

“Government will be supporting this project by finalising the Upstream Petroleum Bill which aims to strike a balance between the need to attract investment into this key sector of the economy and ensuring that oil and gas activities do not happen at the expense of the environment and water resources.”

Departmental spokesperson Natie Shabangu said: “The rig is part of the $400 million (R7billion) oil and gas exploration drilling campaign by Total, of which R1.5bnwill be spent in South Africa through the hospitality industry; off-shore services and equipment; training and contracting of local companies to support the drilling programme.

“The drilling campaign is expected to last between 180 and 300 days. The investment will further enable South Africa to diversify its energy mix, as envisioned in the Integrated Resources Plan, by using all the primary energy resources that the country is endowed with, including gas.”

Cape Argus

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