Tugela South Exploration Area

Exploration Programme Update

EMPr Addendum Disclosure Briefing

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production South Africa Limited (EMEPSAL) and Impact Africa Limited hold an Exploration Right 12/3/154 (Exploration Right) for the Tugela South exploration area off South Africa’s east coast.  The exploration area is approximately 9050 km2 and located between Amanzimtoti/ Durban and Richards Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

EMEPSAL has submitted a renewal application to the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA) to extend the Exploration Right for another two years.

As part of the renewal, EMEPSAL is updating the Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) to cover new studies which they would like to undertake. These updates have been captured in an Addendum Report comprised of information about how the proposed activities interact with the environment and mitigation plans.

The Addendum Report and original EMPr have been disclosed and were made available to the public comment for 30 days between the 19th of June 2014 and the 21st of July 2014.

Hardcopies of the draft Addendum Report and EMPr were available during this period in the following public libraries; Richards Bay, Mtunzini, Stanger (KwaDukuza), Tongaat South, Ballito, Umhlanga, Durban (Central), Umdloti, Austerville, and Amanzimtoti.

The Final Addendum Report as submitted to PASA on 11 August 2014 and is available through the links provided below.

Proposed Activities
So far, two seismic surveys have been conducted over portions of the exploration area in 2011 and 2012.  EMEPSAL is proposing to continue the exploration process by conducting further exploration surveys.

Seismic surveys and the other exploration surveys that may be conducted are carried out to better understand the rock formations that are below the seabed and if it is possible for those formations to hold oil and or gas. During a seismic survey, sound waves are created by sources that are towed by a vessel on the surface of the sea and directed towards the seabed. Signals reflected from the sea bed are recorded by multiple receivers known as hydrophones (also towed on long streamers behind the vessel) and provide a picture of the geology below the sea floor. Specific procedures are followed to ensure that sound exposures and vessel traffic do not harm marine life like whales and sea turtles.  Optional additional surveys that EMEPSAL may undertake include airborne geophysical surveys, multi-beam bathymetry surveys, surveys of the seabed using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), sediment and water sampling and seabed heat flow measurements.

Potential Benefits
EMEPSAL is at the early stages of exploration activities and it can take many years to determine if there are sufficient reserves to progress to an oil and gas production stage. Potential benefits to South Africa could arise if significant discoveries are made in the future, including the security of energy supply, job creation, skills transfer, and community development.

Environmental Protection
The oil and gas industry has demonstrated the ability to operate seismic exploration activities in a manner that protects marine life both within South Africa and around the world.  Marine seismic exploration is carefully regulated by Government and managed by the operator to avoid impacting marine animals. The offshore oil and gas industry and geophysical contractors conduct environmental studies and risk assessments prior to operations. 

As outlined in the Addendum Report, the environment and any potential harm the surveys could have on it have been carefully studied and internationally-recognised protection measures will be taken to ensure the protection of South Africa’s sensitive seas and coastline and to minimise the effect on economic activities. The principles of these protection measures include:

  • Applying internationally-recognised environmental standards and guidelines
  • Avoiding periods of greater environmental sensitivity (such as the sardine run and whale migrations)
  • Monitoring the survey area for the presence of sensitive marine species and stopping work, if necessary, to avoid harm and to gently clear the area
  • Working cooperatively with the fishing industry and other marine users to avoid disruption and damage to fishing gear.



Background Information Document (BID) English

Background Information Document (BID) isiZulu


Cover, Sign off page,contents page and acronyms

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Project Description Update

Chapter 3 Updated Environmental and Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

Chapter 4 Revised Implementation Plan

Chapter 5 References

Annexure A Stakeholder Engagement Communication

Annexure B Updated Specialist Studies

Annexure C Addendum Report Project Team CV's



For questions and comments on the proposed activities, please contact:

Tougheeda Aspeling
Environmental Resources Management (ERM)