French major TOTALEnergies has voluntarily reduced the scope of the license application for natural gas production offshore South Africa, the company says in a response to environmental activist groups.
TOTAL says it has done so “by excluding the area currently classified by the South African authorities as a protected marine area”.
The company did not disclose how much of the natural gas volumes will be impacted by the curb, or what shape the scope reduction will take.
Application for production licence for Block 11B/12B in the deepwater Outeniqua Basin, 175km offshore off the coast of the Western Cape, was made on September 5, 2022, three years after TOTAL discovered massive deposits of gas and condensate in the block with the Brulpadda-1 well, drilled in 2019.
In October 2022, Netherlands based The Bloom association for the protection of the oceans and the South African non-governmental organization (NGO), The Green Connection, launched an international petition against the development of the Brulpadda-Liuperd project, which is primarily intended to supply 200Million standard cubic feet per day (200MMscf/d) to a Gas to Liquids (GTL) Plant operated by the state hydrocarbon firm PetroSA, in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape.
“I can confirm that TOTALEnergies EP South Africa and its partners applied for a production license on September 5, 2022 following which an environmental and societal impact assessment was initiated, in accordance with South African regulations”, Patrick Pouyanne, the CEO wrote in a letter responding to Bloom and The Green Connection. “This assessment will provide a detailed description of the project’s economic, social and environmental impacts, the measures planned to preserve the environment, and the related social and economic benefits. A survey has been launched to map the marine species, including, potentially, marine mammals, to model the potential impact of production activities (especially noise) and to define any measures to be taken”, Pouyanne wrote.
“I would also like to stress that TOTALEnergies E&P South Africa has already voluntarily reduced the scope of the license application by excluding the area currently classified by the South African authorities as a protected marine area”, Pouyanne disclosed.
“Under South African regulations, an information and consultation process on the environmental and societal impact assessment is mandatory. The first public meeting will be held in late 2022, and all stakeholders will be invited to participate. Their observations, expectations and concerns will be considered, including through socio-economic development initiatives.
“Concerning the project’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, I would emphasize that this project is expected to supply gas to the South African domestic market. South Africa’s economy is still predominantly based on coal, which accounts for 80% of its current electricity generation. Access to energy, and in particular meeting the growing demand for electricity, is a major concern in South Africa, where load shedding and power cuts have been an almost daily occurrence for nearly 15 years and where air pollution from fine particles linked to coal burning is frequent. The use of gas to replace coal combustion for electricity generation halves CO2 emissions and drastically reduces air pollution. The atmosphere will benefit from the avoided emissions made possible by this gas development project”.
Pouyanne’s letter noted that that TOTAL is positioning itself In South Africa “to contribute to the evolution of the country’s energy mix as part of a just transition that will require a move away from coal, a sharp increase in renewable energies, and the use of gas as a transition fuel”.