Total SA has withdrawn its application to explore for fossil fuels off the Eastern and Western Cape Coast, for now, its environmental consultant has announced.

SLR Consulting environmental assessment practitioner Matthew Hemming made the announcement regarding the postponement of the application for offshore drilling in a letter sent to interested and affected parties this week. The application was for drilling and other activities in the coastal area between St Francis Bay and Mossel Bay.

Sensitive protected marine area lies close to proposed Total SA drilling location

SLR Consulting had applied on behalf of Total SA to drill 11 holes in the coastal area as exploration wells. The area in question is indispensable for the marine biodiversity on the South African coastline. In addition, a protected marine area is located just south of the intended prospecting area.  

“This letter serves to notify you that TOTAL E & P South Africa B.V. has decided to postpone their application for the additional drilling and associated activities in Block 11B/12B at this time. Thus, the application for Environmental Authorisation of the additional drilling and associated activities in Block 11B/12B has been withdrawn and this ESIA process has been terminated,” Hemming wrote in the letter.

Civil rights organisation AfriForum welcomed the withdrawal of the application saying that it would monitor the situation closely to ensure that any future processes will be investigated thoroughly in order to protect vulnerable marine environments.

Correct processes must be followed to protect environment

AfriForum said it had been monitoring the application since 2020 and had also submitted comment on the matter.

“AfriForum is not opposed to any existing or intended mine activities, but as guardian of the environment it is important to participate in all processes and procedures to ensure that communities and the country are protected,” Lambert de Klerk, AfriForum’s Manager of Environmental Affairs said.    

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Presh JM Reporter

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