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National Gas Pipeline SEA update

Flaring of gas pipeline

Below you’ll find the latest update on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) performed by CSIR for a national 3500km gas pipeline which will traverse South Africa. The public participation process for this SEA took place in only 7 towns in South Africa, despite its vast footprint across landscape and communities. This pipeline will be flared every 187 kms and history shows that leaks to pipelines are par for the course – affecting communities and global warming since what escapes is methane, which traps 84 times more heat per mass unit that CO2, over a 20 year period. Over 60% of the methane emissions are fugitive, the rest are from vented or combusted emissions*.
See the links to the SEA reports below to see if your neighbourhood may be affected.

Dear Registered Stakeholders

This email correspondence hereby serves to inform you that the Gas Pipeline and Electricity Grid Infrastructure (EGI) Expansion Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Process has been completed. To mark the closure of the Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA, the Final SEA Reports have been published electronically on the project website at the following link: https://gasnetwork.csir.co.za/final-sea-reports/

The references of the Final SEA Reports are documented below:

– Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, 2019. Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Development of a Phased Gas Pipeline Network in South Africa. CSIR Report Number: CSIR/SPLA/EMS/ER/2019/0077/B. ISBN Number: ISBN 978-0-7988-5649-2. Stellenbosch and Durban.

– Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, 2019. Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Expansion of Electricity Grid Infrastructure Corridors in South Africa. CSIR Report Number: CSIR/SPLA/EMS/ER/2019/0076/B. ISBN Number: ISBN 978-0-7988-5648-5. Stellenbosch and Durban.

It is important to note that a number of Expert Reference Group (ERG), Project Steering Committee (PSC), focus group, sector specific, and authority meetings, as well as public information sharing sessions were undertaken throughout the SEA Process. Furthermore, the Draft SEA Reports and Specialist Assessments were made available for public comment from April 2019 to June 2019. Appendix A of the Final SEA Reports includes documented responses to stakeholder comments made on the Draft SEA Reports. 

The last phase of the SEA processes is the Decision-Support Outputs and Gazetting Process. This phase translates the outputs from the environmental assessment phase into environmental management measures and planning interventions for inclusion in the relevant legal environmental framework and local government planning tools, to ensure that long term energy planning is secured. 

The Decision-Support Outputs compiled for the Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA are stipulated below:

Gas Pipeline SEAEGI Expansion SEA
– Final Gas Pipeline Corridors- Generic Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) for Gas Pipelines- Development Protocols (Heritage and Palaeontology)– Final Expanded EGI Corridors- Standard for EGI Development- Development Protocols (Heritage and Palaeontology)

As an output for the Gas Pipeline SEA, the Generic EMPr includes generic management objectives and actions in order to manage the construction of gas pipelines.

As an output for the EGI Expansion SEA, the Standard documents the process that needs to be followed to enable exemption from Environmental Authorisation for EGI development within the gazetted EGI corridors, as well as the two expanded EGI corridors (once gazetted). The Standard also provides specifications to guide the routing of the EGI during the project specific phase, and will result in a registration process and no Environmental Authorisation or decision-making. 

A Heritage and Palaeontology Protocol was compiled as part of the Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA Process in consultation with relevant authorities in order to capture assessment and minimum report content requirements for environmental impacts on heritage and palaeontological resources. The protocols specify the additional project level assessment requirements that need to be met by the Project Applicant when applying for Environmental Authorisation.

The Standard for EGI Development, Generic EMPr for Gas Pipelines and Protocols are currently undergoing mandatory vetting processes within the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). Once the vetting processes are completed, the final outputs of the SEA, including the Gas Pipeline Corridors and the EGI Expansion Corridors, will be put forward for public comment through publication in the Government Gazette. Following this, the final outputs of the SEA will be gazetted for implementation. The gazetting process is being handled by the DEFF and is envisaged to take place in 2020.

Stakeholders are encouraged to follow the publications in the Government Gazette, as well as the DEFF website, for further details on the gazetting process, once it commences. 

In terms of a way forward, based on the findings of the SEA Process, it is proposed that gas pipeline infrastructure projects planned within the Gas Pipeline Corridors (once gazetted) will be subject to a Basic Assessment Process instead of a full Scoping and EIA Process in terms of the NEMA EIA Regulations. The streamlined Environmental Authorisation process will also include a reduced decision-making timeframe. In addition, it is proposed that EGI projects planned within the Expanded EGI Corridors (once gazetted), as well as the five gazetted EGI corridors, will be exempted from obtaining an Environmental Authorisation in terms of the NEMA EIA Regulations, provided that there is compliance with the Standard (once gazetted). 

The Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA Team would like to thank all stakeholders for their participation in this process. You have made substantive contributions to the assessment and outputs, which are duly acknowledged and appreciated.

Thank you and kind regards,

Rohaida Abed

CSIR – Environmental Management Services 

P. O. Box 59081, Umbilo, 4075

Tel: 031 242 2300

Fax: 031 261 8172

Email: gasnetwork@csir.co.za

Project Website: https://gasnetwork.csir.co.za/

*Kirchgessner DA, Lott RA, Cowgill RM, Harrison MR, Shires TM (1997) Estimate of methane emissions from the US natural gas industry. Chemosphere 35: 1365–1390. Available at <https:www3.epa.gov/ttn/chief/old/efdocs/methane_dec2000.pdf>

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