SRK Consulting environmentalists call for screening of new exploration project

11 April 2019

While the domestic and international business environments have demonstrated their eagerness to explore the new oil & gas reserves discovered off the Southern Coast of South Africa, proper environmental guidelines need to be in place in order to ensure that the reserves are judiciously utilised, according to an SRK Consulting executives.

The discovery was made earlier this year, and sparked excitement amongst the South African business community, as it was touted as the solution to South Africa’s economic woes in recent times. The new reserves will reportedly provide approximately 1 billion barrels.

Nevertheless, Sue Reuther, an Environmental Consultant at SRK Consulting has urged that these reserves should be treated judiciously to avoid causing any serious harm to the environment. On the other hand, the usage of natural gas is a boon to the environment, give that it has a lower carbon output than coal energy.

The new reserves could cut carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 50%, if handled correctly. Scot Masson, who is also an Environmental Consultant at SRK Consulting, has recommended that the screening of environmental sustainability should be conducted amongst other preliminary regulatory permissions. 

SRK Consulting environmentalists call for screening of new exploration project

Developers usually have to apply for a technical cooperation permit, at which time an environmental screening should also be conducted. One considerable threat from exploration is the underwater noise emitted from exploration equipment.

“This underwater noise can have impacts on marine fauna, including pathological injury and behavioural responses that may affect feeding and breeding success. Marine fauna can also be injured in collisions with the seismic survey vessel or support vessel, or when they become entangled with towed equipment,” said Masson.

Reuther added that companies should make use of the mechanisms already in place to minimise the effects of such projects. “To minimise the chance of accidents, the oil and gas industry has developed and routinely implements protocols, such as airgun soft-start procedures and the use of blow-out preventers and water-based drilling muds. These inform mitigation measures included in EIAs conducted for such projects in South Africa.”

SRK Consulting has become an integral part of South Africa's development in the mining and natural resources domain. Recognised for its adept analysis and reporting, the firm is an important source of information for natural resources companies looking to navigate the current South African economy.

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SRK Consulting prepares screening tool for the Southern African Power Pool

21 March 2019

South African mining consultancy SRK Consulting has compiled and Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) that is being utilised to help increase the speed and efficiency in electricity projects across the region of Southern Africa. Specifically, the framework accelerates the screening process prior to commencing a project. 

Reports in recent years have indicated that Africa currently suffers from a gap of $100 billion when it comes to investment in infrastructure, and the power sector is amongst those left the most wanting. A number of projects are currently underway to improve connectivity and distribution, although the process is slow.

The current power grids on the continent, particularly in Southern Africa, lack the capacity to support contemporary development, and are in dire need of enhancements. The mapping and screening of these grids in order to ensure their development is sustainable is often a primary cause for delay in their development.

The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) is one organisation that has been looking to facilitate improvements to power grids across the region, and has recognised the importance of accelerating the screening process to optimise development. To this end, SAPP commissioned SRK Consulting in 2016 to develop and ESMF that would allow for faster alignment of project details with lender demands.

SRK Consulting prepares screening tool for the Southern African Power Pool

The firm has been active in supporting the mining sector of South Africa through its turbulent period, and has received praise and recognition for its reporting abilities. SRK Consulting has now developed the tool, which will be leveraged across countries in the Southern African Development Community.

The report has been developed in three stages. The first involved initial interactions with numerous environmental and social stakeholders, while the second stage consisted of the development of recommendations in accordance with the information obtained. The third stage was the ratification of the report by SAPP officials.

Commenting on the report, Daryll Kilian, Partner and Principal Environmental Consultant at SRK Consulting said, “ This framework is particularly relevant where project loans are required from international financial institutions that apply policies, standards and guidelines to safeguard environmental and social sustainability.”

“The SAPP utilities and IPPs will be responsible for the on-the-ground implementation of the ESMF, and they will be the main users of the framework. As member utilities and IPPs are also represented on the SAPP Environmental Sub-Committee (ESC), they will report back on the application of the ESMF – to ensure alignment in the screening and scoping of priority power projects,” he added.