TotalEnergies, Shell in fresh SA oil exploration bid

TotalEnergies is seeking comments from “interested and affected” parties
Image: Matthieu Rondel/Bloomberg

TotalEnergies SE and Shell Plc are seeking to drill oil exploration wells off South Africa’s southwest coast months after two attempts to conduct seismic surveys in the country’s waters were thwarted by legal challenges.

TotalEnergies is seeking comments from “interested and affected” parties and has invited them to participate in public meetings on the proposed program, SLR Consulting, which has been contracted to conduct an environmental assessment, said in the notice dated April 19, seen by Bloomberg.

“The main purpose of the pre-application phase is to provide initial notification to stakeholders and specifically to identify and develop the stakeholder database for the project,” SLR said in a response to queries. This will ensure SLR has a comprehensive database for future stakeholder engagement and more information will be released in May, the company said.

Shell was blocked from carrying out a seismic survey off the country’s south coast in December after local communities took legal action against it, saying they hadn’t been consulted and the programme may harm marine life and disrupt fishing. Last month Searcher Seismic abandoned exploration off the west coast after a court ordered it to halt activity. Still, in both cases a later ruling could allow a resumption of exploration, though Searcher Seismic said it won’t return.

TotalEnergies hasn’t responded to requests for comment since Thursday. It has said on its website that it plans to drill one exploration well in the area and then, if it is successful, as many as four more.

The notice, sent out on behalf of TotalEnergies, is in three widely-spoken languages in South Africa — English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa — and details plans to explore a 10 000 square kilometre (3,861 square miles) part of a block off the coast between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas.

The block is between 60 kilometres and 170 kilometres offshore and covers water depths of between 700 metres and 3.2 kilometres. In addition to TotalEnergies and Shell, the government’s Petroleum Oil & Gas Corp of South Africa is a partner.

TotalEnergies has made two gas condensate discoveries in 2019 and 2020 off the South African coast.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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We can decide to stop all exploration and development, but then we will have to cull about 20% to 30% of humans at the same time. You cannot be an environmentalist and a socialist at the same time because those concepts are mutually exclusive, if you think about it.

Organic farming, green energy, and responsible mining and manufacturing are important and it is viable and sustainable. We need to do our best to control the negative impact that humans have on nature. The human race is the worst environmental disaster that has hit earth in the last 4.5 billion years, but we are here, and nobody wants to remove himself and his children for the sake of nature. Everyone wants someone else to remove themselves for the sake of nature.

Economic growth and the exploitation of natural resources enabled the human race to escape from the Malthusian Trap. The current population size depends on the availability of a constant stream of resources, as well as steady growth in economic activity. The current population size can only be sustainable if the availability of resources is secured. New sources need to come online as existing sources are depleted.

This brings us to the point. The individual who demands that exploration and economic activity should be restricted, stopped, or turned around, is by implication also advocating for an equivalent shrinking in the size of the human population. This is what economic science teaches us.

Let’s bring it down to a personal level. That crusader for the rights of pilchards that lives 1000 km offshore, lives in a house that was built upon the home of 2 skunks, 5 porcupines, and 30 guineafowls. This is the classical example of cognitive bias.

Considering how humans have become dependent on economic growth and the availability of resources, it is clear that it comes down to choosing between the life of one whale versus the lives of 1000 humans.

You may choose the wale, but guess what those 1000 humans will choose? You have been outvoted. The whale does not have a vote. Democracy has basically decided against the whale, and I love whales.

End of comments.

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