Durban- An environmental impact assessment report into exploratory offshore drilling near the coasts of Durban and Richards Bay has been released by Environmental Resources Management, which states that the contentious expedition will have a minor impact on the environment.
The consulting company does environmental, health and risk assessments.
Sasol and Italian oil and gas exploration company Eni South Africa BV (Eni) are looking to explore for “hydrocarbons” at up to six water wells off the coast of Durban and Richards Bay next year.
Numerous public hearings have been held about the oil exploration, which at times have become volatile as community members and environmentalists expressed their anger at the proposed venture.
In the 333-page draft report, it said the ecosystem within a radius of 200 metres would be affected. The report also said helicopter flights to the drilling vessel will generate noise that could affect seabirds on the coast.“Low altitude flights over the ocean could also affect marine mammals and turtles in surface waters in the Project Area,” the report said.
These issues raised would have a minor impact on the environment, the report said.
Desmond D’sa, of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance scoffed at the report and said it was misleading.
He argued that if the drilling was allowed to go ahead it would destroy a large area and would affect tourism in Durban and Richards. From his experience of having travelled to many countries where there were drilling operations, oil drilling and exploration had devastated the environment.