Wat gebeur regtig by PetroSA en wat is die implikasies van die Russe se R5 miljard-ooreenkoms met dié omstrede oliemaatskappy wat in 2015 ‘n ysingwekkende verlies van R14 miljard gely het weens die mislukte Ikhwezi-projek?
Doodse stilte heers die afgelope paar maande oor wat agter die skerms aangaan by die ou Mossgas (PetroSA)-aanleg buite Mosselbaai sedert dié bankrot-maatskappy 6 maande gelede die wenkbroue laat lig het deur ‘n uiters geheimsinnige R5 miljard-kontrak met die Russiese maatskappy Rosgeo te sluit. Die handjievol kundiges wat steeds by PetroSA werk, is ewe in die duister. Niemand praat of vra vrae nie, maar agterdog en bespiegelinge is volop:
Gaan die Russe regtig daarin slaag om daagliks tot 4-miljoen kubieke meter gas te lewer om uiteindelik aan die Mossgas-raffinadery te lewer? As daar wel soveel gas- en oliereserwes langs die Suid-Kaapse kus is, hoekom is dit sedert Mossgas se ontstaan in die laat tagtigerjare nooit gekry toe van die wêreld se beste kundiges hier was nie?
Volgens die Russe is die geskatte olie- en gasreserwes waarvoor hulle die see gaan omdolwe glo meer as 50 miljoen ton. Op Rosgeo se webblad word gesê: “Oliereserwes word geskat op meer as 50-miljoen ton; gas – meer as 14 triljoen kubieke voet, met voorspellings van gasreserwes op 42 triljoen voet.”
Maar die vrae en bespiegelinge oor dié geheimsinnige transaksie neem toe namate die stilte voortduur:
Gaan dit regtig oor die gas en olie of finansier die Russe dalk Zuma se verkiesingsveldtog? Is dit ‘n laaste, desperate poging om Petro SA te red, of is daar veel groter politieke knoeiery hieragter en wat is die implikasies hiervan vir die Mosselbaai-omgewing en die land? Waarom is die media verbied by alle binnegevegte by PetroSA en die ontbinding van die raad sedert Rosgeo ter sprake gekom het? Gaan dié geheimsinnigheid volgehou word totdat dit te laat is om te keer indien daar wel ‘n politieke geknoeiery agter die ooreenkoms sit?
Die Gupta-skandaal en Jacques Pauw se omstrede blitsverkoper-boek The President’s Keepers het onthul presies hóé diepgewortel en wyd die korrupsie en staatskaping onder President Jacob Zuma se leierskap reeds by alle staatsdepartemente ingesypel het. Die chaos in die beleërde mynbedryf waar talle hangende Hooggeregshofsake bloot uitgestel word, is net die oortjie van die seekoei oor wat regtig by die Departement van Minerale Hulpbronne aangaan.
FOSFAAT GESOEK OP WES- EN SUID-KAAPSE SEEBODEM
Terwyl die Weskus nog steier onder die knelgreep van die droogte en die bedreiging wat die omstrede KROPZ-fosfaatmyn vir die ondergrondse waterbronne en Langebaan-strandmeer inhou, het dieselfde Departement van Minerale Hulpbronne DMH) blykbaar ook planne om die hele seebed vanaf Saldanhabaai tot anderkant Mosselbaai om te dolwe op soek na fosfaat? Dit kom nadat die multimiljardrand-fosfaatmynprojek van KROPZ skielik tot stilstand gekom het en een van die redes glo die daling in die internasionale fosfaatmarkprys was.
Die DMH het blykbaar reeds aan DRIE maatskappye mariene-prospekteerregte toegeken om oor groot gebiede in die Wes- en Suid-Kaap die see om te dolwe op soek na fosfaat. Die mynlisensies dek ‘n gebied van 150 000 km en sluit dele van Suid-Afrika se beskermde westelike en suidelike Eksklusiewe Ekonomiese Zone in. Die prospekteerregte is toegeken aan Green Flash Trading 251, Green Flash Trading 257 en Diamond Fields International. (Berig en kaart van die mariene-prospekteergebiede heel onderaan).
Die verwoestende en onomkeerbare impak van bogenoemde multi-miljardrand-projekte op die see- en marienelewe is herhaaldelik wêreldwyd bewys en die geheimsinnige manier hoe die SA Regering dit ongesiens laat inglip sonder ‘n sweempie van deursigtigheid en openbare deelname-prosesse, is uiters onrusbarend.
Is Mosselbaai / die Tuinroete met sy natuurskoon en ryk marienelewe gereed hiervoor?
Lees gerus en moenie wag tot dit te laat is nie?
PetroSA: Russian geological SEO Rosgeo throws national oil company a R5-billion lifeline
o JESSICA BEZUIDENHOUT
o SOUTH AFRICA
o 05 SEP 2017 12:41 (SOUTH AFRICA)
Is this a sweet deal for the cash-strapped PetroSA or is it one that’s finally put a smile on the faces of both President Jacob Zuma and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin? By JESSICA BEZUIDENHOUT.
Some five months after Russia’s nuclear hopes in South Africa came crashing down thanks to a High Court order that forced the SA government back to the drawing board, bilateral co-operation between the two countries appears to be working just fine – for now.
This is thanks to the deal signed between PetroSA and Rosgeo for a strategic partnership that will see the Russian company invest about $400-million (R5-billion) to develop oil and gas blocks off the Cape coast in an area commonly referred to as Block 9.
Signed during the BRICS Summit in China on Monday, the partnership will see Rosgeo explore for oil and gas in a vast stretch of ocean off the Cape south coast.
“The project envisages extraction of up to 4-million cubic metres of gas daily and would eventually be delivered to the Mossgas refinery,” PetroSA announced in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Feedstock for the refinery has run low for several years, sparking fears that it may need to shut down or force costly gas imports to extend its lifespan.
“The signed agreement is aimed at developing bilateral relations and will strengthen Rosgeo’s presence in the African market,” Roman Panov, CEO of the company, was quoted as saying.
While the statement released by the South African authorities appears cautiously optimistic about the benefits for the embattled PetroSA, the Russians appeared somewhat more excited: A different statement posted by Rosgeo on its website read: “Oil reserves are estimated at more than 50-million tonnes, gas – over 14-trillion cubic feet, with forecasted gas resources at 42-trillion feet.”
But perhaps it’s not just about the potential gas reserves.
Details of the exact partnership between PetroSA and Rosgeo were not immediately available but Daily Maverick has had sight of one version of a framework agreement suggesting that the Russian company would take up a 65% equity stake in the venture.
This agreement also makes provision for an off-take agreement whereby PetroSA would – subject to volumes – buy the gas for Mossgas.
While this deal will no doubt boost the balance sheet of the embattled PetroSA, it also marks one of the first major contracts awarded to Russia by a state-owned enterprise since all that fuss over process in the government’s initial attempts to get a nuclear deal signed.
Russia, widely seen as a frontrunner in that deal, was one of several vendor countries with which the SA government had entered into agreements. Similar agreements were signed with South Korea, China, the US and France.
Those agreements were all nullified by the High Court in Cape Town in April when Earthlife Africa won its court case and secured a ruling that found the agreements signed to be invalid and unconstitutional and compelled the government to start the process from scratch.
The announcement of the Block 9 deal came within days of unsubstantiated accusations of political meddling within PetroSA.
Daily Maverick previously reported on claims by two former PetroSA board members that their removal from the board was allegedly linked to a tussle over the lucrative deal.
William Steenkamp and Owen Tobias brought an urgent High Court application last week in a bid to challenge their removal.
The Central Energy Fund which oversees PetroSA opposed the application arguing there was no merit to the claims made by the two and that the Central Energy Fund was well within its rights to effect board changes.
Judgment was reserved.
Steenkamp, in an affidavit, had levelled sensational claims that their removal was linked to their reluctance to okay a preliminary agreement with the Russian company – one allegedly favoured by President Zuma – in time for a ceremonial signing during the 14th intergovernmental committee on trade and economic co-operation (Itec) of the two governments in Pretoria in November last year.
Steenkamp said they could not sign the document without the approval of the PetroSA board at the time as it contained various “binding” provisions.
Meanwhile, this deal, while it may be viewed as one that could potentially placate Mother Russia after the mess over over the new nuclear build programme, could also serve to undo much of the financial mess caused by PetroSA’s previous solo attempt to drill for liquefied natural gas to augment feedstock for Mossgas.
The state-owned oil company suffered a R14-billion loss in 2015, much of it due to the ill-prepared well-drilling mission under Project Ikhwezi. DM
Photo: CEO of Rosgeologia, Roman Panov. (Photo by Rosgeo)
Meer agtergrond oor die Rosgeo-debakel hier:
Alarm at seabed destruction from SA phosphate mining
07 NOV 2017
If you imagine fish as birds of the ocean, they fly through forests and over fields which grow in the rich soil of the continental shelf. Just as on land, it’s Earth teeming with roots and creatures that form the base of the sea’s food web and upon which its health depends. Around South Africa’s coasts, that could soon change writes DON PINNOCK.
The Department of Mineral Resources has granted three prospecting rights over vast areas of the sea floor that could signal the start of a mining process to grind up the seabed to extract phosphate. The resulting sediment would be dumped back into the water column as liquid “dust”, posing a threat to ocean ecosystems, fish and fisheries. What it would do to the seabed is almost unimaginable.
The licences cover 150,000km2 within South Africa’s western and southern Exclusive Economic Zone and were awarded to Green Flash Trading 251, Green Flash Trading 257 and Diamond Fields International.
A map shows the three marine prospecting rights on the sea floor.
How proposed mining areas overlap existing fishing areas.
Studies commissioned by the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition (SOSC), an alliance of non-governmental organisations, has warned that marine phosphate mining “would have severe and irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems and fishery resources and associated jobs, livelihood and food security benefits sustained by our fishing industry”.
Bulk marine sediment mining uses a suction hopper dredge which gouges the sediment to a depth of three metres. It’s dredge head, which is about 11 metres wide with cutting teeth and high-pressure water jets, is dragged across the sea floor, crushing hard sediment and sucking it – and everything else in the way – up a tube. Once the phosphate has been filtered out, all excess water and fine particulate is flushed back into the sea, creating a sediment plume.
Mining would take place on the continental shelf in what is known as the benthic zone, the area just above and below the seabed. Apart from anchoring aquatic plants, it’s home to sea stars, barnacles, mussels, anemones, urchins, snails, crustaceans, molluscs, worms, ground fish and other organisms that make their home on or in the sea floor, at depths where light still penetrates.
Much of the food supply is in the form of “marine snow”, small particles of decaying organic matter that slowly descend through the water column and accumulate on the ocean bed.
According to Saul Roux, a legal campaigner at the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER),the impact of mining will include:
• Destruction of seabed ecosystems which are the building blocks of marine ecosystems;
• The release of hazardous substances such as radioactive materials, methane, hydrogen sulphide and heavy metals locked in the seabed;
• Destruction of spawning, breeding and feeding habitats for fish species, many of which are commercially important;
• Reduced light penetration and therefore photosynthesis of marine plants;
• Burial and smothering of marine organisms in the mining block and surrounding areas; and
• Habitat destruction and ecosystem changes in mined areas which could be permanent, as recovery would take centuries.
The CER has flagged serious gaps in South Africa’s legal, governance and institutional frameworks able to manage such bulk marine sediment mining. This would mean, says Roux, that the phosphate mining operations would be “unregulated and not subject to state monitoring or enforcement of its compliance with licences and environmental laws”. This would facilitate severe and irreversible damage to marine environments and fisheries.
Only 0.4% of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone lies within marine protected areas (MPAs). The government, through Operation Phakisa, has committed to safeguard at least 5% of this zone in a network of 22 offshore MPAs. These have not yet been established and, says Roux, would not be big enough to protect biodiversity from resource exploitation, especially along the West Coast.
Even if MPAs are declared, there is considerable doubt about the government’s ability to police them. The Tsitsikamma MPA was rezoned for fishing in 2016 and in Table Bay fishing has been taking place in the Paulsberg MPA.
Marine mining technologies worldwide have caused massive environmental disasters, both through human error or equipment failure. The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Exon Valdez spill off Canada are among many many examples. Although a prospecting right doesn’t grant a legal entitlement to mine, it provides an expectation that mining will be allowed. The phosphate licensing follows a number of other indications that the government plans to develop a bulk seabed mining industry.
Photo: The bigger picture – offshore oil and gas activities as at 2016. Source: Petroleum Agency SA
In 2015 the Departments of International Relations & Co-operation as well as Mineral Resources announced the development of a Seabed Mining Roadmap aimed at developing this industry. Its media releases allude to the latter’s intentions to develop seabed mining in South Africa’s EEZ.
CER has pointed out that South Africa’s EEZ is already under considerable threat from marine petroleum extraction, with 98% already granted for exploration and production. It has called for appropriate governance frameworks for offshore oil/gas exploration and production as well as for seismic activities.
In response to the Seabed Mining Roadmap, The Safeguard our Seabed coalition has called for a moratorium on bulk marine sediment mining until a strategic environmental assessment has been done and a network of marine protected areas declared.
A report commissioned by the SOSC highlights the fact that there is no need to undertake marine phosphate mining as there are more socio-economically and environmentally friendly ways to obtain it sustainably. These include the recovery of phosphates from human and animal waste and a more efficient application of phosphate fertiliser to soils.
Despite the environmental and economic risks and after almost three years of advocacy, government has not responded to calls by the SOSC for an environmental assessment of marine phosphate mining. Neither has it taken any steps towards establishing a moratorium pending a strategic inquiry into this highly destructive process. This seems to an indicate determination to forge ahead at all costs. DM10
Illustrative photo: Maddie Dimaggio/(Unsplash).
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