Oil Industry: Total’s Gas Discovery Could Improve South Africa’s Economy While Risking The Environment

Total
The logo of French oil and gas company Total is seen on a truck transporting fuel in Durban, South Africa February 7, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward)

Total announced last week that it made a "significant" natural gas discovery off the southern coastline of South Africa. While this could help boost the country's economy, some experts have raised concerns about the potential risks it could pose to the environment.

In its big reveal, Total stated that the Outeniqua Basin found natural gas deposits at depths of 3,633 meters (almost 2.3 miles) under the ocean during a deep drilling session. It is now called the Brulpadda discovery.

The French oil and gas giant also revealed its plans to acquire 3D seismic data of the discovery before any commercial drilling processes commence.

During South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation address, he noted that Total's recent find is a huge breakthrough in helping boost the economy. It is worth noting, though, that the country just recently moved forward from the recession.

If the natural gas discovery is able to complete all required tests and drilling processes, it could reach a premium price range of $5 to $10. Within 20 years, South Africa could haul in 1 trillion rands or over $73 billion, as calculated by the South African Oil & Gas Alliance.

While this is big news in the oil and gas industry, some environmental groups are against the idea of leveraging on the Brulpadda discovery. Greenpeace, one of the concerned groups, stressed that Total's plan to drill into the South African coastline is "reckless."

According to Quartz, Greenpeace Africa's Chris Vlavianos said, "Deep sea drilling is far too risky. The possibility for an oil spill always exists, and the environmental impacts of deep sea drilling for oil and gas are too significant to be ignored, with very little benefit or job creation for South Africans."

Despite this warning from environmentalists, some experts predict that there's no stopping Total from exploring the South African coastline. Based on data collected since 2014, it was revealed that 10 states in the country have already confirmed to the giant industry that they are home to gas deposits.

Meanwhile, other oils, gas, and energy companies continue to advocate against environmental risks that these industries could bring forth. The Oracle Today reported that among them is Chevron.

According to the outlet, the American energy corporation pledged to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions that contribute further to climate change. The company recently joined hands with other providers in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative that aims to largely reduce processes that weigh heavily on global warming.

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