Oil & Gas

Gas over coal for South Africa, TotalEnergies boss argues

TotalEnergies can develop gas offshore South Africa responsibly, the CEO has argued, and help the country reduce emissions.

Patrick Pouyanné was responding to protests from two NGOs, France’s Bloom and South Africa’s The Green Connection.

Total will hold a consultative process on the environmental and societal impact, in line with South African regulations, he said. It will hold this first public meeting in late 2022.

Pouyanné went on to say the Luiperd plan was intended to supply gas to the domestic market. Coal provides around 80% of South Africa’s power. Furthermore, load shedding has been “an almost daily occurrence for nearly 15 years”.

Using gas rather than coal “halves CO2 emissions and drastically reduces air pollution. The atmosphere will benefit from the avoided emissions made possible by this gas development project,” Pouyanné said.

Total applied for the production licence on September 5.

Environmental impact

The company must comply with local standards. These include a description and plans to manage the impact on the environment. The company has launched a survey to map marine species and model how production activity might have an impact.

Total has “already voluntarily reduced the scope” of the application by excluding a protected marine area.

The French company is also working on other energy projects in South Africa, including the Prieska solar power plant. It has also won tenders recently for more such projects.

“In South Africa, TotalEnergies is positioning itself in accordance with public policy to contribute to the evolution of the country’s energy mix as part of a just transition that will require a move away from coal, a sharp increase in renewable energies, and the use of gas as a transition fuel,” Pouyanné said.

The two NGOs are continuing the opposition to the Total plans. The two are organising a “nationwide picket” of Total branded fuel stations on December 7 to oppose the offshore plans.

Updated at 3:57 pm to change headline, remove “green”. 

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