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Oil giant to drill off Durban coastline

2014-08-03 11:20

Durban - Local environmentalists are outraged over ExxonMobil's plans to drill for oil and gas off Durban's southern coastline.

According to the Sunday Independent, the oil giant was one of a few companies awarded rights to explore for gas and oil off the coast of South Africa.

The company plans to drill in an area half the size of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Environmentalists, however, say that the Environmental Resources Management agency (ERM), linked to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) failed to adequately notify the public of the oil company's proposal.

They claim drilling of this nature will destroy the entire ecosystem.

Exploration

A meeting between all parties last week ended in gridlock.

This issue follows close on the heels of a decision taken last month regarding fracking in the Karoo.

President Jacob Zuma was given 30 days to halt the issuing of exploration licences for fracking in the area.

The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said at the time they want to see physical steps to halt the process. They said Zuma was the one that needs to put a stop to it.

TKAG and civil rights group AfriForum hand-delivered a letter to Zuma's offices at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. In the letter the groups call for Zuma to investigate the fracking process and to speak to South Africans about the matter before issuing exploration licences.

Contaminate

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth.

It involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground. Activists have raised concerns about the process as it uses vast quantities of water and the chemicals could contaminate surface and underground water.

If Zuma failed to address the matter, the two organisations would approach Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Failing this they would go to the high court.

They said going to court would be the last resort. If needed they were financially secure enough to take the matter to the Constitutional Court on the basis that there were no meaningful attempts by government to engage with the public on the matter.

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