French multinational integrated energy company, TotalEnergies, has received approval to commence drilling activities in Block 5/6/7, located off the Cape coast of South Africa.
This exciting development comes after the dismissal of an appeal by South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment in September 2023. The approval allows TotalEnergies to proceed with its plans to drill up to five offshore wells across the block.
The appeal, launched by lobbyists, aimed to dispute the environmental authorization that had been granted to TotalEnergies earlier in the year. The lobbyists cited concerns about inadequate public consultation and potential environmental impacts.
However, after conducting a thorough assessment of the project’s environmental impacts, the Ministry has dismissed the appeal and given TotalEnergies the green light to explore the offshore acreage.
Barbara Creecy, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, explained the decision, stating, “I am satisfied that the impacts of noise and light have been adequately assessed and mitigated to ensure low impacts on the receiving environment. As such, this ground of appeal is dismissed.” This statement emphasises the government’s commitment to ensuring that any potential environmental risks are properly addressed and managed.
Spanning an impressive area of 10,000 km², Block 5/6/7 encompasses water depths ranging from 700 to 3,200 metres. TotalEnergies, in collaboration with project partners Shell and National Oil Company PetroSA, currently holds a 40% stake in the block, with Shell and PetroSA holding 40% and 20% respectively. The consortium is now in the advanced planning stages and is set to commence drilling the first well in 2024.
The location of Block 5/6/7 is strategically advantageous, as it is in close proximity to the high-impact discoveries made in the Namibian side of the Orange Basin in recent years. These discoveries have generated significant interest and have the potential to yield promising returns. The proximity to these discoveries suggests that the block holds great potential for further offshore exploration and production activities.
TotalEnergies’ success in obtaining approval to drill in Block 5/6/7 reflects the company’s dedication to responsible and sustainable energy exploration. The dismissal of the appeal affirms the thoroughness of the environmental assessment conducted by the Ministry and underscores the government’s confidence in TotalEnergies’ ability to operate in an environmentally responsible manner.
This development marks a significant step forward for the energy industry in South Africa, as it opens up new opportunities for exploration and potential resource discoveries. The drilling activities in Block 5/6/7 have the potential to contribute to the country’s energy security and economic growth, while also creating employment opportunities and fostering technological advancements in the sector.