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Participate in Gas-to-Power Powership EIA for Richards Bay

Please register as an Interested and Affected Party (see details of the EIA below) to prevent South Africa being locked into more fossil-fuel energy provision. South Africa is set to exceed its carbon budget by 2030 with our emissions set to increase 90% above 1990 levels. Comments are due before 31 March 2021.

After Karpowership (Pty) Ltd’s attempt to circumvent statutory and democratic Environmental Impact assessments (EIA) processes was exposed by whistleblower Richards Bay Clean Air Association director Sandy Camming[i], they are now conducting an EIA for two Gas-to-Power Powerboats and one gas vessel [Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU)] planned for Richards Bay. These powerships are effectively ocean-going, purpose-designed electricity generators driven by imported gas [Liquid Natural Gas (LNG)] or [heavy fuel oil (HFO)]. The FSRUs heat onboard liquid gas supplies into a gaseous form before being pumped to the powerships for burning.

These Turkish powerships are presented as a solution to augment Eskom’s inadequate and intermittent power supply since, once land-based infrastructure is established, they can be operationally employed within 3 months, however Oceans Not Oil has a number of fiscal and environmental concerns, not least of which is that Richards Bay is a vitally important feeding and nursery area for fish, sharks and a myriad of other marine organisms; and that cost to power from these ships is about R1.70 /kWh compared to new solar plants 60-80c/kWh or wind 70-90c/kWh [ii].

Furthermore, below are more potential risks and costs:

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) carrier, Powerships and Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRU)

  • Disturbance to marine habitat – 
    • Severe water temperature elevations from hotter water discharges from the boats – with lethal and sublethal effects to plankton, fish, shellfish and sharks.
    • Increased salt content in the discharge water (water will be more salty, thus changes in the pH).
    • Increase in noise pollution from offloading LNG every 20 days, regasification and power generation.
    • Disturbance to the sediment and sea floor from mooring infrastructure;
  • Reduction in ambient air quality from increased atmospheric emissions;
  • Safety risk from potentially leakage of LNG;
    • Liquid Natural Gas :-methane leaks at rates between 2 and 12 percent, and its climate impact – or global warming potential (GWP) – is 86 times that of CO2 over 20 years. 
      Heavy Fuel Oil:- Crude oil has high levels of sulphur and vanadium and its nitrous oxide and carbon emissions will pollute air and are connected to respiratory disease. This highly poisonous sticky fuel becomes more toxic when exposed to sunlight and can foul marine habitats for decades.
  • Safety risk of storage of Natural Gas within the port 
    • Natural Gas is highly flammable. 
  •  Contributions to climate change.
  • Marine traffic congestion. 
  • Explosions and accidental fires. 

Gas pipeline

  • Disturbance to marine habitats;
  • Potential leakage of Liquid Natural Gas;
  • Increase in noise pollution;
  • Disturbance to coastal dunes.

Transmission lines and lattice towers

  • Clearance of indigenous vegetation;
  • Disturbance to the terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Loss of biodiversity;
  • Altered hydrology; 
  • Increase in noise pollution;
  • Change in hydropedological (soil and water combination) processes;
  • Destruction of wetlands, watercourses and estuarine areas;
  • Visual impact; 
  • Disturbance to properties and existing services.

The company plans to moor more vessels at another two harbours – two power ships and one gas vessel at Coega in the Eastern Cape and one power ship and one gas vessel at Saldanha Bay. The public participation processes for these to date have been contentious.

[i] Steyn, L. (2020, July 26). Are power ships the answer to SA’s energy woes?. Business Live.

[ii] Carnie, T. (2020, August 13). Proposal for Turkish company to anchor ‘floating power stations’ off SA harbours raises alarm bells. Daily Maverick.



Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions (Pty) Ltd is undertaking the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process required for Karpowership (Pty) Ltd’s application for Environmental Authorisation (in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998) and an Atmospheric Emissions Licence (AEL) (in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004) for its Proposed Gas to Power via Powership Project at the Port of Richards Bay, uMhlathuze Municipality within King Cetshwayo District Municipality, KwaZulu Natal.

The Scoping phase, which commenced at the beginning of October 2020 has been concluded with the acceptance of the Scoping Report, including the plan of study for the EIA by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) on 6 January 2021. Thus, the application is now in the EIR phase.

Project detail: The project entails the generation of electricity from two floating mobile Powerships moored in the Port of Richards Bay fed with natural gas from a third ship, a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU). The three ships will be berthed in the Port for the project’s anticipated 20-year lifespan. A Liquefied Natural Gas Carrier will bring in liquid natural gas and offload it to the FSRU approximately once every 20 to 30 days. Natural gas will be pumped from the FSRU to the Powerships via a subsea gas pipeline. The project’s design capacity is 540MW of electricity generated by 27 gas engines, each having an approximate heat input of over 10MW. The 3 steam turbines that drive the engines have a heat input of 15.45MW each. From the Powerships, the electricity that is generated will be evacuated via a 132kV transmission line over a distance of approximately 3km, from the Richards Bay Port tie in point to the Eskom line, at a connection point (necessitating a new switching station) in proximity to the existing Bayside Substation, which feeds into the national grid.


Comment on the draft EIA report:

The Draft EIA Report (inclusive of the Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) and specialist reports) will be available to Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs), including State Departments as well as DEFF for comment for 30 days within the period 26th February – 31st March 2021 at the Richards Bay public library, Triplo4’s Ballito office, on Triplo4‘s website:, as well as an online platform to registered Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs). Please contact the Triplo4 office if you experience any difficulty in accessing these reports.

Public and Stakeholder Meetings:

As part of the public participation process, meetings will be independently facilitated, using online meeting platforms to allow for participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two meeting time options are offered – a morning session and an evening session. The same information will be provided at both sessions and registered I&APs will receive the minutes of both sessions. Questions or comments may be submitted in advance of the online meetings.

The meetings will be conducted on Thursday, 11th March 2021 at 10:00 and at 18:00.
The links to enable to join the online meetings will be provided to registered I&APs approximately a week in advance.

For I&APs who are unable to participate on such platforms, please contact the Triplo4 in advance so that additional assistance or alternative arrangements to participate can be made.

Please submit all comments and requests for registration as an I&AP (if not already registered) and/or further information to:

Mrs. Hantie Plomp
Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions
Douglas Crowe Drive, The Circle, Suite 5, Ballito P.O. Box 6595, Zimbali, 4418
Tel | 032 946 3213
Fax | 032 946 0826
E-mail |

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