'Show me proof offshore seismic activity is bad'
— SA lost R1bn investment over Shell protests
The furore over fracking off the Wild Coast last year cost SA at least R1bn in investment.
This is according to Petroleum Agency SA's COO, Bongani Sayidini, who spoke about the oil and gas potential in the country at Friday's first pre-colloquium event in Johannesburg.
The dialogue was hosted by the departments of forestry, fisheries and the environment (DFFE) and mineral resources and energy (DMRE) to engage on clean energy transition.
Sayidini was referring to seismic surveys planned by Shell and the Searcher geoscience company which were set to begin on December 1 last year.
He said there were an estimated 9-billion barrels of oil and about 60-trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas offshore.
Just 20tcf of gas could generate 20GW of power, half the 40GW new-generation capacity needed to meet the country's demand.
The exploration is in line with Operation Phakisa, launched in 2014 to streamline SA's National Development Plan (NDP 2030) for poverty alleviation and social equity.
Operation Phakisa could contribute up to R177bn to GDP by 2033 and create between 800,000 and 1-million direct jobs.
Environmentalists and concerned citizens protested against exploration in the sensitive ocean environment. Their concern regards ocean health and the wellbeing of animals and indigenous communities along the coastline.
In February the Makhanda high court dismissed DMRE minister Gwede Mantashe and Shell's application for leave to appeal a decision to grant an interim interdict against the seismic survey.
On Friday Sayidini said in the two months from when the seismic activity was permitted to when it was interdicted in December, the country missed out on a R1bn investment and further investments if the tests were successful.
“If we were to produce half of what we estimate in prospective oil we could fully cover the demands of the country and we could export.
“It is only through drilling and seismic activity that we can know how [much oil and gas can be produced].
“If we're not enabling [this kind of exploration] — proving that this country has the resources — we can kiss goodbye our security. Jobs are at risk.”
He said new discoveries of large gas fields known as Brulpadda and Luiperd off the south coast in offshore blocks 11B and 12B by TotalEnergies had already seen a $1bn investment.
These blocks have enough gas for more than 15 years — 560-million standard cubic feet per day or 3,000MW, said Sayidini.
He added that the blocks would create 42,500 job opportunities, 1,500 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs, and it would add R22bn to annual GDP.
“While we [protest against] doing seismic activity, the rest of the continent is drilling and discovering billions of barrels of oil and gas — this while in SA we were engaging in the fracking conversations.
“We have had 12 or so [offshore] drilling sites. What affect have they made? Can anyone show any catastrophic issues or impacts?
“No seismic activity has really caused issues, [there is] harmony between fisheries and oil and gas.”
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.