Controversial KZN energy survey will be ‘non-invasive’

Rhino Oil & Gas Exploration South Africa (ROGESA) recently announced that it would be using non-invasive techniques in an initial survey of fossil energy reserves on approximately 850 000ha in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

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This was in response to widespread public criticism of ROGESA’s plans to conduct the survey and possibly mine any fossil energy reserves discovered.

Environmental consultancy, SLR Consulting (acting on behalf of ROGESA), said previous survey options included drilling up to 10 core boreholes and conducting seismic surveys along a 125km stretch.

For its early-phase exploration of the area in the Pietermaritzburg district, covering about 6 700 properties, ROGESA would now instead be analysing pre-existing geological data and conducting aerial full tensor gradiometry gravity surveys.

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However, this early-phase survey would still require approval from the Petroleum Agency of SA.

The Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF), consisting of 12 environmental conservancies, remained strongly opposed to ROGESA’s application.

“The focus on only aerial survey is regarded with suspicion as this means that a second exploration application will have to be made based on the results of the aerial survey. It smacks of a divide and rule approach, or hopes that the public will lose interest as their area may get excluded,” the MCF told Farmer’s Weekly.

MCF also said that it did not regard an “aeroplane flying at 60m to 80m above the ground as “non-invasive”.

Interested and affected parties had until 14 October to submit comments on ROGESA’s latest environmental impact report.