With rich natural resources and a strong legal system, the offshore exploration and ocean governance tiers of Operation Phakisa had unlocked a close to R50-billion for South Africa’s economy by 2018. This is the second blog in a three-part series click here to read part one.

Offshore oil and gas exploration


Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration has indicated that South Africa’s coast and adjoining waters have possible resources of approximately nine billion barrels of oil. This is equivalent to 40 years of South African oil consumption. We also have 11 billion barrels oil equivalent of natural gas, which is equal to 375 years of South African gas consumption. However, there is significant uncertainty about the extent of these resources.

This work stream has developed eleven initiatives. The team has set an ambitious target of drilling 30 exploration wells in 10 years. Over the next 20 years, this work could lead to the production of 370 000 barrels of oil and gas per day. This is approximately 80% of current oil and gas imports. The result would be 130 000 jobs and a contribution of US$2.2-billion to GDP.
The South African Government is aware that it has to create the enabling environment to give industry the comfort to invest in this capital-intensive sector. The work stream has outlined some initial targets towards this goal. The project is still in the early stages of research and exploration, but the department aims to have 30 wells built in 10 years.

In addition‚ the R660-million Burgan fuel storage facility recently commenced operations at the Port of Cape Town and a new Sunrise Energy liquid petroleum gas facility is in operation at the Port of Saldanha Bay. President Zuma said the oil and gas offshore supply base berth had been completed in Saldanha while 14 exploration rights, six production rights and two technical cooperation permits have been issued in the oil and gas sector.

Ocean governance


Improvements have been made in tracking illegal vessels in SA waters and our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including the National Ocean and Coastal Information System, which is currently being piloted. Numerous arrests and confiscations have been made in the coastal provinces through coordination from joint operations. The marine industry is more equipped to signal early warning signs for red tides and algal blooms that can harm the vulnerable West Coast Rock Lobster industry.

In terms of the Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance, the Draft Marine Spatial Planning Bill and associated Marine Spatial Planning Framework, which will serve as areas for nurseries, have been completed. Consultations have been concluded on 18 of the envisaged 22 Offshore Marine Protected Areas. These will cover approximately 4.4% of our Exclusive Economic Zone. In addition, the National Marine Pollution Laboratory has been established at Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape and will be responsible for the water quality analysis programme, along the South African coast.

This article originally appeared in the 3rd edition of the Vision 2030 publication with the title ‘Operation Phakisa: All hands on deck”.

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