New gas bid for KZN

2016-01-26 10:10

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Pietermaritzburg - A second company has applied for permission to explore large swaths of KZN for petroleum and gas deposits.

Last week Sungu Sungu Gas (Pty) Ltd said it had applied for an “application for an exploration right on various farms” with the Dannhauser Municipality near Dundee and Newcastle.

Rhino Oil and Gas, which is head-quartered in the USA, is also seeking to explore vast tracts of land near Pietermaritzburg and surrounds.

According to Sungu Sungu’s background information document (BID), residents within the area of exploration have until February 16 to lodge a comment or “objectives”.

Issued by Johannesburg-based environmental consultant Brian Whitfield, Sungu Sungu Gas is proposing to “undertake a speculative two-dimensional (2D) seismic survey and diamond drilling to investigate for petroleum reserves”.

The document said Sungu Sungu successfully lodged an application for an “exploration right” with the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (Pasa) on November 3, 2015.

The document says the project “entails exploration for hydrocarbons [oil and gas]”.

The “Sungu Sungu Exploration Project” covers an area of roughly 7 763 ha.

It said what could be impacted upon and what it typically “associated with exploration activities” include noise, air quality, visual, ecology, heritage, surface water, ground water and soils.

“A scoping report will be compiled in order to provide a baseline for the receiving environment. [It will be] released for a 45-day review and comment period. The final Scoping Report will be submitted to Pasa for consideration on or before March 31.

Meanwhile, Rhino Oil and Gas will be hosting public meetings in Howick, Mooi River and Greytown next month.

The previous meetings in Mooi River and Greytown were both cancelled due to the venues being too small.

They have applied to explore 1,5 million hectares, including 10 000 farms, near Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith and Nkandla, looking for natural gas deposits in the main, and minerals.

According to environmental consultant Matthew Hemming, the company has applied for “an exploration right to the Petroleum Agency South Africa … over a substantial area in KwaZulu-Natal”.

In a letter addressed to landowners and “interested and affected parties” last week, Hemming stressed no hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is proposed in the three-year exploration work programme.

Rhino has come under significant pressure at public meetings over the likelihood of the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique being used.

Hemming said the previous public meetings, which included Ashburton and Nkandla during November, “elicited significant response” but that “overall the public response was very much opposed to the exploration right application”.

CEO of African Conservation Trust, which forms part of a newly formed lobby group called Frack Free SA, Francois du Toit, said he intends to attend as many public consultation meetings as possible.

Speaking on Rhino’s application, he said he “can’t expect they will come up with anything different”.

“I don’t think they have bothered to take regulations into account. They have not denied fracking is not an option. We are not expecting any significant changes. They [the environmental consultants] are simply going through the motions,” said Du Toit.

Du Toit said there is “sufficient evidence” that fracking is dangerous to the health of the environment and people.

“Our other concern is that Rhino is embarking on this process of ­exploration and they intend to sell their bidding right to the highest bidder,” he said.

He said Frack Free SA will scrutinise Sungu Sungu’s application.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fracking

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