Surfing journo David MacGregor from Port Alfred dropped me a mail to let me know about an article he wrote for for the Daily Dispatch last week. Turns out some bunch called New African Global Energy Limited (NewAGE) have managed to wangle themselves the rights to go exploring for oil & gas in Algoa Bay and along the coast up to the Gamtoos.
A quick google search turns up bogger-all on NewAGE, although some digging reveals a LinkIn page - which has a link to their website - which doesn't work. Starting to smell like a BEE deal! Some government connected brother's uncle's cousin's friend now suddenly has a lucrative mining concession. Aaaah, Africa...
Anyhow - back to the issue at hand. These ou's are now going to be doing a seismic survey of the whole area, which entails letting off load blasts of a seismic airgun towards the seafloor looking for fossil fuel deposits. Which is quite a kak thing if you happen to be a turtle, whale or dolphin anywhere close by. It's the equivalent of being locked in a small room with thumping death metal being played at a zillion decibels. Well, maybe not quite - but enough to say they've banned it in lank countries overseas cos of concerns over the effect it has on marine life.
But it's effect on marine life will pale in comparison to what'll happen if these guys actually do find oil or gas. Gas is the lesser of two evils cos at least a leak will just blow themselves up instead of ruining the whole bay. But shew, if they find oil that's kak luck for us. Cos now THAT stuff makes a moer of a mess. Remember the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a while ago? And that was a 1st world country. Good luck trying to clean up an oil spill here...
Personally I hope they just end up wasting all their money and finding bogger-all, cos I sure as hang don't want a big oil drilling platform off our coast thanks. Anyway, fossil fuels suck. They killing our planet anyway, looking for oil is so old-school. They should rather spend their money on renewable energy - we're called the Windy City remember....wind farms rock.
Here's Dave's article:
"A controversial seismic survey of the ocean floor off the Eastern Cape for oil and gas reserves has begun despite fears they adversely affect already threatened marine resources.
The 450 000 km2 (SUBS: 450 000 square kilometre) two dimensional survey is one of several taking place off the South African and Namibian coast that involves ships crisscrossing the ocean firing several loud airgun blasts at set intervals towards the seabed looking for fossil fuels.
Outlawed in several developed countries around the world, a recent report for the renowned Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) by Bayworld's Dr Stephanie Plön and Renee Koper has called for South Africa to conduct its own systematic formal research on the effects of ocean noise on marine animals.
Although much research had been conducted on the impacts of seismic surveys on marine species in the northern hemisphere this was not the case down south.
"Yes, I and a few of my colleagues are concerned about the seismic explorations off our coastline as to date very few research projects have concentrated on the effects of such surveys on Southern Hemisphere species," Plön told the Dispatch yesterday.
She said the bulk of informastion came from research on northern hemisphere species and could not simply be applied here because of obvious differences in biology and ecology.
According to Plön, very little is still known about hearing in most marine species, which could differ substantially between species.
"Ideally one should employ the ‘precautionary principle’ when approaching such issues and some research should be conducted into the potential effects on local marine fauna prior to or alongside the surveys."
Fears were raised the surveys could have a negative impact on whale tourism and the fishing industry.
She said ocean noise pollution was a large concern in other parts of the world and was recently flagged at the last International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) meeting as an area of importance.
IUCN supports scientific research, manages global field projects and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy.
Plön said anthropogenic noise was a 'hot topic' of Northern Hemisphere research as sound played a pivotal role in the lives of many marine mammal and fish species.
"As seismic surveys are conducted by airguns, which basically fire off a loud sound at set intervals, this constitutes a possible disturbance."
Phumla Ngesi of Petroleum Agency South Africa - which according to their website "promotes exploration for onshore and offshore oil and gas resources and their optimal development on behalf of government and regulates exploration and production activities”- yesterday confirmed the "acquisition of seismic data has commenced."
Plön said seismic disturbance impacts could range from behavioural responses - where species avoided an area for a certain amount of time - to physical damage of body tissues by sound pressure waves and temporary or permanent hearing loss.
"Interestingly in my dealings with (local) industry to date I have encountered some resistance towards research into potential side effects of seismic surveys and marine construction - which is in contrast to many ventures overseas where industry and government together fund research into this as well as into how best to mitigate such effects on the environment."
She said the seismic permits appeared to be in contrast to government's initiatives towards a clean and green economy using alternative, environmentally sustainable energy resources such as wind and solar power."
So can we do anything to stop these guys?