Stop TotalEnergies Exploration & Production South Africa (#StopTEEPSA)

TotalEnergies plans to launch operations in South Africa’s waters in areas of spectacular marine biodiversity, at the expense of wildlife and of small-scale fishers’ livelihoods. Coastal communities and civil society organizations advocate to stop such explorations to safegaurd the environment, their livelihoods and heritage. The Green Connection, as part of the Who Stole Our Oceans campaign, works with coastal communities to stop the exploration of offshore oil and gas in South Africa. 

Want to know how it all really begun? Read the beginning of the story from the bottom of the page, under 2021

2024

Green Connection is in France in support of #StopTEEPSA court challenge with Bloom, Santé Planétaire and Nuestro Futuro. against TotalEnergies’ board of directors and main shareholders for their contribution to climate change and its fatal impact on human and non-human lives. In the context of intensifying climate disasters and just three days before TotalEnergies’ Annual General Meeting, this legal action could set a precedent in the history of climate litigation as it opens the way to holding fossil fuel producers and shareholders responsible before criminal courts for the chaos caused by climate change.

During the week of TotalEnergies’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) (to be held today 24 May 2024) and Africa Day, protesters in both South Africa and France continue voicing their collective opposition to the multinationals’ ongoing offshore oil and gas projects. The Green Connection (South Africa) and Bloom (France) – civil society organisations working with small-scale fishers and others to create widespread awareness of the harm caused by such projects – say these protests aim to reiterate the urgent need for a just energy transition, to move away from fossil fuels that exacerbate climate change.

Blocks 5/6/7

Blocks 3B/4B

 In a bid to defend our oceans and to ensure sustainable livelihoods for coastal communities, The Green Connection and Natural Justice have approached the High Court in the interests of protecting the coastal environment and the communities who rely on it for their livelihoods. Today, the organisations announce their joint legal challenge against the decision to grant TotalEnergies EP South Africa (TEEPSA) environmental authorisation for exploratory drilling in block 5/6/7, located off the coast between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas.

10 May 2024, The Green Connection and Natural Justice submitted comments, on the revised Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA) concerning the offshore oil and gas Exploration Right (ER) for Block 3B/4B. The comments were supported by Masifundise Development Trust. Located off the West Coast, this project raises significant concerns regarding its potential risks and negative impacts to some of South Africa’s most precious marine ecosystems and the ripple-effect for coastal communities and their livelihoods. 

The Green Connection and Natural Justice are ready for court, now that they have received notification that the Minister and the Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE), along with TotalEnergies EP South Africa (TEEPSA) will oppose their joint legal challenge against the decision to grant environmental authorisation for exploratory drilling in block 5/6/7, located off the coast between Cape Town and Cape Agulhas.

The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Neville van Rooy says, “The Green Connection believes in responsible governance, which should include protecting the ocean, for this and future generations.”

2023

Brussels / Paris / Berlin / South Africa, 7 February 2023 – On the eve of the announcement of TotalEnergies’ annual results, five winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize called on financial institutions to stop supporting the French major’s oil and gas expansion in Africa which tramples on climate, biodiversity and human rights. This week they presented their call in the European Parliament.

The Goldman Prize winners have written to 78 banks, investors and insurers to demand they commit to stop supporting, either directly or indirectly, TotalEnergies’ expansion strategy in Africa, where the French company is developing a number of projects, including the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania and the planned exploitation of Luiperd and Brulppada, two major offshore gas fields in South Africa. Liziwe McDaid, said: We will do everything we can to stop TotalEnergies’ plan off our shores. It’s time for European financial institutions to finally get that South Africa has plenty of solar and wind resources.”

The Green Connection, small-scale fishers and activists went to France in a joint bid with Bloom for the #OceanTotalDestruction campaign, to stop TotalEnergies’ oil and gas expansion in South Africa.  They engaged with European Parliament (Brussels) with Goldman Prize Winners and Members of the National Assembly (Paris), environmental and civil society organizations and French Ministries to provide awareness about the campaign and request help to stop the French company TotalEnergies from exploring offshore oil and gas in South African waters.

The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville Van Rooy says, “We were in France to send a clear message to the French government and to Total that we will continue to oppose this French company putting our oceans and, as a result, our small-scale fisher livelihoods at risk. Oil and gas are part of our fossil fuel past and must be phased out as part of the just transition. So, it makes little sense that this French company is poised to exploit Africa’s oceans.”

Blocks 11B/12B

Blocks 5/6/7

2D/3D Seismic Surveys

The Green Connection and Natural Justice (3 Februarymade its submission on the scoping process of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the proposed offshore Block 11B/12B production right and environmental authorisation project for TotalEnergies EP South Africa (TEEPSA), as part of the public participation process. The organisations say the assessment has several shortcomings, which will affect the interests of the local and indigenous peoples and communities.

On April, the Green Connection says it is disappointed that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has decided to grant environmental authorisation to TEEPSA – to drill up to five exploration wells in Blocks 5/6/7 off the South-West coast of South Africa, including in riskier deep-water locations (at depths of up to 3.2 km). “It is always disappointing when government appears to choose profits over the needs of the people, while also ignoring government responsibility to address climate change. 

South Africa: On 9 December, people across the country united in local actions against oil and gas exploration and drilling off South Africa’s coastline. Multinational corporations – including Shell, QatarEnergy, Total Energies and contractors such as CGG and Searcher Seismic – are amongst the focal points of this latest public outrage. According to Liziwe McDaid, Strategic Lead at The Green Connection (one of the civil society organisations that got in on the action). 

November, Green Connection and Natural Justice – with support from affected small-scale fishers – have been very busy making submissions to highlight, once again, all the reasons to reject two separate offshore oil and gas applications made by TotalEnergies. 

 

3 November, outside Parliament, South African eco-justice activists join the global movement Power Up for Climate Solutions to kick off a month (from November 3 to December 9) of environmental and climate action in the lead up to COP28. The Green Connection, African Climate Alliance, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and Project90By2030 join others around the world in a united call for a peaceful and equitable world that is powered by renewable, sustainable energy sources. They say, “This year will be the 28th instalment of the Conference of the Parties – better known as COP28 – and yet, globally, governments appear to be no closer to making firm climate commitments that they intend to keep, nor do we see sufficient urgency in climate-conscious action.”

2022

2D/3D Seismic Surveys

Blocks 5/6/7

On 1 March 2022, the High Court put a stop on Searcher’s seismic survey, noticing that “no attempt was made to meet with small-scale fishers of the West Coast.” A decision that upholds coastal communities’ constitutional rights for public participation, but leaves room for a potential counter-offensive through the request of new Reconnaissance Permits.

With little more than seven (7) years till 2030 – by which time the world should have dramatically curbed its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as part of a global effort to keep global warming below 1.5°C – The Green Connection says that it will continue to oppose government’s worrying offshore oil and gas aspirations. In its comments on the Draft Scoping Report (DSR) sent yesterday, regarding TEEPSA’s application to undertake exploration well drilling in Block 567, off the West Coast of South Africa, the eco-justice organisation points out that instead of starting new fossil fuel projects, which will contribute to carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions well into the future, South Africa should be focused on moving toward a just transition to renewable energy.

On 26 September 2022, small-scale fishers held a picket demonstration at Pepper Bay Saldanha. The group of about 50 fishers and supporting eco-justice and community-based organisations are opposing the (imminent) arrival of the Azinam oil rig, which is set to start offshore oil and gas exploration activities in the next days. Affected communities in Northern Cape are dissatisfied, saying that they were not adequately informed or consulted about the project. The fishers are also taking a symbolic stand against the French multinational oil and gas company Total, which has many projects on the go and in the pipeline, for South Africa’s oceans.

On October 2022, the Green Connection (South Africa) and BLOOM (France) unite against TotalEnergies’ harmful offshore oil & gas projects in South Africa. As the climate breakdown and the mass extinction of animal species threaten humanity’s survival. Both organizations call on TotalEnergies to immediately cease its offshore exploration and exploitation projects off the rich and biodiverse South African coasts and call on global citizens to make their voices heard by signing an online petition to protect our ocean and climate from TotalEnergies’ destruction.

2D/3D Seismic Surveys

Blocks 5/6/7

In November, COP27 sees world leaders and other important decision-makers meet to discuss global efforts to address the climate crisis. Recent press reports have revealed that the country is the world’s 13th biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases and has pledged to reduce these emissions to net zero by 2050. Yet, the government continues to promote offshore oil and gas exploitation. This begs the question – is the government committed to addressing climate change, or committed to exploiting fossil fuels? It can’t be both, and it has become glaringly obvious that it is up to the people of South Africa to intervene to put a complete stop to any future seismic survey operations.

7 December 2022, people – concerned citizens from Port Nolloth in Northern Cape to Saldanha and Cape Town to Knysna and Beaufort West in Western Cape, all the way to Gqeberha and Xolobeni Eastern Cape, Durban and Richards Bay in KZN and even inland in Johannesburg – came out to peacefully protest the Total Destruction of the ocean and to demand an end of the exploration and extraction of any new climate change-escalating fossil fuel projects. Demonstrators around the country are raising the alarm and creating widespread public awareness that the government and the oil and gas industry are not taking the climate crisis seriously, as efforts to further explore for and extract offshore oil and gas are ramped-up.

2021

French Company TOTAL E & P South Africa B.V (TEPSA) Plans To Drill For Oil And Gas In South Africa

TotalEnergies plans to launch operations in South Africa’s waters in areas of spectacular marine biodiversity, at the expense of wildlife and of small-scale fishers’ livelihoods. The oil & gas French major is knowingly developing its exploration project in an area of strong currents and extraordinary species richness, which serves as a “blue corridor” as well as feeding or nesting grounds for thousands of whales 2, fur seals, penguins, petrels, albatrosses, gannets and endangered leatherback turtles. South African waters are also home to a large population of snoek (a member of the mackerel family), which forms the heart of the west coast small-scale fishers’ economy, while fishers on the south coast rely on a variety of species for their livelihoods.

“Offshore exploration off South Africa’s coast was previously limited primarily by the depth of the potential resources and secondly by the ocean currents”. South Africa’s National Climate Change Response White Paper, along with experts from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), recommend a shift towards renewable energy where fossil fuels, including gas, are excluded. However, in its 2022 report, the IISD stresses that “there are strong indications that South Africa is potentially on the verge of a gas investment flurry that could prove to be a very expensive mistake for the South African people.” South African Oil & Gas Alliance

2D/3D Seismic Surveys

Blocks 11B/12B

On 4 April 2021, the company Searcher applied for a ‘Reconnaissance Permit’ to perform a 2D and 3D seismic survey programme over a number of petroleum license blocks extending over 297,087 km² from the South African-Namibian border down to Cape Agulhas. These include blocks leased by TotalEnergies.

Confronted with the perspective of a large-scale seismic survey lasting for six months and the prospect of a future massive ocean grabbing along the West Coast, coastal communities, small-scale fishers, and environmental justice NGO ‘The Green Connection’ went to Court to oppose this fast-paced and uncontrollable oil & gas exploration.

The Green Connection and  small scale subsistence fishers from around the country – have welcomed TOTAL E & P South Africa B.V’s (TEPSA) announcement (13 April 2021) that it will postpone their application for additional drilling and associated activities in Block 11B/12B off South Africa’s south coast. The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process has also been terminated. Since the first granting of the exploration rights, and subsequent drilling of the Brulpadda exploration well, TEPSA had proposed the drilling of up to ten additional exploration wells. The areas in question are situated 130 km and 45km offshore of Mossel Bay and Cape St. Francis, respectively. 

The Green Connection welcomes two recent developments in the energy sector that are seen as a massive boost to pro-climate activists. Yesterday (26 May 2021), it was reported that a Dutch court had ordered Royal Dutch Shell to dramatically slash its CO2 emissions in a landmark climate ruling, which stipulates that the oil company must slash its emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels. Observers across the globe agree that the ruling could have far-reaching consequences for oil companies.

“I believe that these developments indicate that the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels. The global community is beginning to realise that just because there is oil and gas in the ground, we do not have to remove it because the consequences can indeed be catastrophic for both the affected communities and the environment."
Liz McDaid