Environment Dept appointing independent expert to help rule on Karpowership appeal

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SA energy company DNG is challenging the selection of Turkish company Karpowership as main preferred bidder in government's Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme.
SA energy company DNG is challenging the selection of Turkish company Karpowership as main preferred bidder in government's Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme.
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The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment says it is appointing an "independent expert" to assist Minister Barbara Creecy in responding to an appeal by floating powership provider Karpowership SA.

Karpowership SA, which falls under Turkey's Karadeniz Energy Group, was in March named a preferred bidder in the state's Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP) to fast-track the production of new power to cut down on load shedding.

The energy group produces electricity from gas-fired power stations on ships. Its local unit bid to moor five powerships and three support vessels, known as floating storage regasification units, at the ports of Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay.

In late June, it was refused environmental approval by the DFFE. In its ruling, the department said Karpowership SA had not undertaken a noise modelling study on the impact of running the ships on marine life. It also said that the powership provider's public consultation process had been lacking. 

The energy group soon lodged an appeal against the decision. In August, one of its local directors, Mehmet Katmer, said it was "very confident" an appeal would be successful as it "meets all the requirements".

On Tuesday, the DFFE said that while it has finished sourcing the information it needs from all parties, it has decided to appoint an expert to help decide whether to grant or refuse the appeal. 

"The appeals administrator is currently in the process of appointing an independent expert to assist the minister on the appeals," said the DFFE. "As soon as the appointment process is finalised, the expert will have 10 days to consider the appeals and make recommendations in respect thereof."

According to a departmental tender document, the closing date for bids to be considered as an independent expert is 6 December.

While the RMIPPPP was devised as a speedy answer to SA's energy woes, it has been beset by repeated delays. The 11 preferred bidders have struggled to clear regulatory hurdles quickly, while a lawsuit launched by a losing bidder has further delayed proceedings. The suit, by DNG Energy, is set to be heard later this month in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

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