Community members from the South of Durban in Basin have reacted with anger at the news that a petroleum company located in the area intends to explore for oil and gas.

South African petrochemical giant Sasol, an Italian oil and gas corporation- ENI- are currently exploring for oil and gas along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. There are concerns about the impact the exploration will have on the ocean, marine life and communities.

Environmental NGOs voiced their concern. Janet Soloman from “Oceans not Oils”, who called for great accountability in the event of an oil spill. “An emergency response team based in Saldhana is hopelessly inadequate. 360kms of ocean will be ruined before the response team even arrives.”

Soloman said, “There has been no mention of what appropriate insurance safeguards Sasol or ENI have in place for remediation against oil spills and other environmental damages. Considering the serious toll a spill would have on our safe recreation at beaches, healthy habitats for wildlife, industries such as tourism and fishing.”

Sasol Executive Vice President for upstream operations, Jon Harris was unable to directly answer most of these concerns. He did however apologise to the community which feels neglected because Sasol did not consult them on the exploration plans.

“I feel like apologising first of all, I’m quite disappointed that we’ve kind of disrespected you. I think is what Desmond said- disrespected you by not giving you an opportunity to express your views and to listen to what you’ve had to say,” Harris says.

Harris says, “We don’t know if we’re going to drill yet. It’s not definitive that we will drill a well. It depends very much on what the seismic shows us and ultimately if we do drill well. I believe the environmental impacts are pretty minimal because of the lengths the industry goes to.”