[WSMDiscuss] (Fwd) Anti-extractivism in South Durban, where ExxonMobil/ENI/Sasol/Statoil are exploring for oil offshore (Des D'Sa & SDCEA)

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Nov 11 15:20:27 CET 2018


  Why we should stop oil and gas drilling offshore KZN

Opinion <https://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/opinion> / 7 November 2018, 
12:00pm / *Desmond D'Sa*

Desmond D'Sa

OPINION -  The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) has 
16 community and environmental organisations in our network, all 
increasingly opposed to oil and gas exploration underway on our coast. 
The exploration is already doing damage to marine life and tourism, and 
future drilling also threatens humanity and all of nature due to climate 

KwaZulu-Natal is a popular home as well as destination for visitors 
partly because of the province’s beautiful beaches. Healthy oceans are 
critically important to marine life and to coastal communities whose 
economies rely on tourism, fishing and recreational activities.

Opening up new offshore areas to drilling by the likes of ExxonMobil, 
the Italian firm ENI, Sasol and Norway’s Statoil will risk permanent 
damage, especially if we suffer huge oil spills such as occurred when 
ExxonMobil’s Valdez tanker wrecked the Alaska coast and BP destroyed so 
much aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico when an oil drilling rig blew up.

With unaccountable companies like these drilling offshore Durban, we 
face added risks of an oil spill ruining our beaches, bringing harm to 
those who live, work and vacation along the coasts, as well as 
destroying habitats critical to plants and animal species. Along the KZN 
coastline, more than 50 000 subsistence fisher folk eke out a living 
daily. Oil spills can quickly traverse vast distances.

Even early-stage exploration causes environmental degradation, because 
when seismic tests are conducted, fish and even whales are either killed 
or forced to leave the area. The website ‘Oceans not Oil’ – 
https://oceansnotoil.com/  – documents our concerns about the unusually 
high number of recent whale beachings along our coastline.

As a result, we are now forcefully contesting all these firms’ 
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) statements. When initiated by 
fossil fuel corporations, they typically lack integrity due to the 
firms’ enormous power and endless dishonesty. Even New York’s state 
attorney general sued ExxonMobil last month because of its “longstanding 
fraudulent scheme… concerning the company’s management of the risks 
posed to its business by climate change regulation.”

At a time South African leaders are seeking Foreign Direct Investment, 
these companies’ promises of trickle-down benefits to our shrinking 
foreign reserves and to the huge pool of unemployed labour are 
apparently mesmerizing – but they are also deceptive, because extractive 
industries engage in the worst of Africa’s notorious Illicit Financial 
Flows, and because oil rigs, refining and transport are all 
capital-intensive, requiring only a few skilled workers.

We owe future generations, our current coastal residents and our marine 
life much more rigour than government has provided to date in the EIA 
process. Vast ecological threats are rising rapidly, beyond the drilling 
and extraction stages now under consideration, extending into oil and 
gas refining which happens in South Durban more than anywhere else in 
Africa, in transport through Transnet’s dubious pipelines, and in the 
combustion of oil and gas. A full-cost accounting is required.

To illustrate, South Durban refineries run by BP, Shell and Engen have 
been devastating to our air, land and water quality. We conclusively 
demonstrated this by showing that Settlers Primary school students 
suffered a 52% asthma rate, the world’s highest ever recorded. This 
research forced municipal officials to belatedly insist on sulfur 
scrubbing that has made an improvement – yet the refineries’ CO2 
emissions causing climate change are worse than ever.

As for transporting the fuel, numerous pipeline blow-outs on the 
Durban-Johannesburg pipeline in recent years have been devastating. Yet 
instead of following the safest existing path for a new pipeline (which 
will eventually double the capacity flow of petroleum westward), 
Transnet decided on a brand new route. Instead of following the N3 
westwards, it now takes a ridiculous, racist southern detour through 
low-income black communities like South Durban and Umbumbulu. This added 
hundreds of extra kilometers and helped raise the cost from R6 billion 
to R27 billion.

Even the Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba admitted in 2012 
that KZN pipeline construction suffered “systemic failings” since 
“Transnet Capital Projects lacked sufficient capacity and depth of 
experience for the client overview of a megaproject of this complexity. 
There was an inadequate analysis of risks.”

He confessed that the Durban-Joburg pipeline is profoundly flawed: 
“Transnet’s obligations on the project such as securing authorisations – 
EIAs, land acquisition for right of way, water and wetland permits – 
were not pursued with sufficient foresight and vigour.”

The threat of oil and gas combustion is even greater due to a climate 
change crisis now increasingly evident in KZN. The recent droughts, 
thunderstorms, other extreme weather events and added costs of 
adaptation are never considered by these oil and gas corporations. The 
largest of these, ExxonMobil, is a notorious climate denialist, even 
though from the 1970s it already possessed extensive documentation of 
climate damage resulting from its core business model. It chose to 
threaten our planet’s very future so it could maximise profits.

The offshore oil and gas exploration and subsequent drilling now under 
consideration would bust our government’s own (very inadequate) 
carbon-budget strategy of peaking and then reducing greenhouse gas 
emissions by 34% from 2030. If government officials approve the 
exploration and then drilling, they are no better than Donald Trump.

Finally, although the oil companies predict economic benefits will 
accrue to South Africa, this is because they have failed to provide 
full-cost accounting. For example, they ignore ‘natural capital 
accounting’ which the late Environment Minister Edna Molewa committed 
South Africa to supporting at the 2012 Gaborone Declaration meeting. 
Once fossil fuel reserves are measured as not simply a ‘credit’ to Gross 
Domestic Product, but also as a ‘debit’ to the country’s natural wealth 
(since these resources do not regenerate), it becomes evident that the 
extraction systems run by multinational corporations are not a positive 
but instead a negative contributor to South Africa’s overall wealth.

All these factors should be fatal to the proposed oil and gas drilling, 
even at exploration stage. The Legal Resources Centre and other 
socio-environmental watchdogs are helping SDCEA make this our most 
important campaign going immediately forward.

But we desperately need society to ask the question: instead of 
remaining addicted to such dangerous, dinosaur forms of fuel, can we not 
put pressure on our politicians to urgently convert South Africa to 
renewable energy, public transport and non-fossil agriculture, as soon 
as possible?

/Desmond D’Sa is a 2014 Goldman Prize Recipient, Africa and the South 
Durban Community Envrionmental Alliance Coordinator/

*Daily News*


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20181111/29d3f0d5/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list