On Friday last week (27 February 2015), Bundu submitted its updated Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) to the regulator, Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), following public consultation in compliance with a directive issued by the Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources.
This marks both the completion of a very significant body of work, and the first step in what we anticipate will be an ongoing dialogue with local communities and stakeholders once exploration rights have been awarded.
Public consultation involves all parties who potentially have an interest in an exploration right application, a development or project, or may be affected by it, directly or indirectly. It is a joint effort by stakeholders, technical specialists, the authorities and the proponent/developer, who all work together to produce better decisions than if they had acted independently.
The objectives of public consultation in an EMPr process are to provide sufficient and accessible information to stakeholders in an objective manner to assist them to:
- raise issues of concern and suggestions for enhanced benefits;
- verify that their issues have been recorded and considered in the EMPr;
- assist in commenting on reasonable alternatives;
- contribute relevant local information and traditional knowledge to verify existing baseline information; and
- comment on the findings of the EMPr.
We would like to thank everyone in all of the affected communities who took part, for contributing their views and sharing their concerns. This input has informed the further development of the EMPr.
The debate around hydraulic fracturing continues to elicit strong views from a broad spectrum of stakeholders. Although hydraulic fracturing was removed from the work programme in the updated EMPr, understandably, stakeholders wanted to engage further on this specific topic and on future plans that applicants may have regarding exploration in the Karoo.
A range of concerns was expressed related to the environmental and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing. Although the company has no specific proposal that involves hydraulic fracturing at present, the Bundu team explained the typical processes involved in an exploration and appraisal programme in order to put the current EMPr and work programme in context, and was able to discuss any of these matters with concerned stakeholders in an open and constructive manner.
We learned much as a result and now have a much clearer understanding of stakeholders’ concerns about both the current work programme and what the future may hold.
Bundu engaged Golder Associates (Golder), an independent environmental consultancy, to undertake the update of the EMPr, including the public consultation process. The Bundu team comprised Robert Willes (Director Bundu, Managing Director Challenger Energy), Bill Bloking (Director, Challenger), Peter Price (Director Bundu) and Pierre Joubert (Business Development, Challenger).
The public consultation process comprised three principal components, in line with the requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act:
- The identification and notification of landowners within the Bundu exploration right application area.
- The announcement of the availability of the updated draft EMPr, and an invitation for stakeholders to register as interested and affected parties and to contribute comments to the updated draft EMPr.
- Consultation with interested and affected parties by convening a series of small group and public meetings.
Despite the limited timeframe available for public consultation, Golder made special efforts to engage both with the directly affected parties (landowners within the Bundu exploration right application area) and the broader community within the study area.
The process is explained in greater detail in the updated EMPr, available via the links below or on Golder’s website at http://www.golder.com/af/en/modules.php?name=Pages&sp_id=1793
Updated Environmental Management Programme Report in support of application for Petroleum Exploration Rights within the Magisterial Districts of Somerset East, Cradock, Pearston and Jansenville, Eastern Cape Province
EMP Vol 1 (6 MB)
EMP Vol 2 (9,3 MB)
EMP Vol 3 (3 MB)
EMP Vol 4 (4 MB)
EMP Vol 5 (5,5 MB)
EMP Vol 6 (9,4MB)
EMP Vol 7 (5,7 MB)
EMP Vol 8 (4,7KB)
EMP Vol 9 (6,5 MB)
EMP Vol 10 (3,9 MB)
EMP Vol 11 (1,9 MB)
EMP Vol 12 (9,5 MB)
The draft EMPr was made available to the public from 8 December 2014 to 16 February 2015, both online and in hard copy, at a number of public locations and on request. Some 152 land-owning entities were identified and notified by registered post. The process was advertised via site notices, advertisements in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa in local and regional newspapers, and broadcast announcements in Xhosa and Afrikaans via regional and national radio. During this process, stakeholders were invited to register as interested and affected parties (I&APs). A total of 1 268 stakeholders registered as I&APs during the course of the project.
Introductory meetings were held with a number of farmers’ associations and others during December 2014 and January 2015. An open day and public meeting, along with small group meetings that had been requested, and meetings with local municipalities, were held during the week of beginning 9 February, 2015.
The updated EMPr was finalised and submitted to PASA on Friday, 27 February 2015. A total of 2 281 questions and comments were raised by registered I&APs during the consultation period. These were captured in a Comments and Response Report, together with the responses to each. This report, together with other submissions received, are included in the EMPr.
The Minister now has 120 days to consider whether to approve Bundu’s EMPr. Once the Department of Mineral Resources has made a decision on whether or not to grant the exploration right, Golder will notify all registered I&APs.
Click to enlarge images