HELP PROTECT THE BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE

------ Forwarded Message
From: Phillip Owen <owen@soft.co.za>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 10:09:15 +0200
To: <sawac@geasphere.co.za>

GEASPHERE
www.geasphere.co.za

For Your Information and Action!

HELP PROTECT THE BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE

THE BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO NATIONAL PARK (BANP) IS THREATENED BY SASOL’S
PROPOSAL FOR OFFSHORE EXPLORATION OF NATURAL GAS (HYDROCARBONS). ADD
YOUR VOICE TO EFFORTS TO PREVENT ALL HYDROCARBON EXPLORATION WITHIN 50
KM OF THE BOUNDARY OF THE NATIONAL PARK AND SURROUNDING AREAS.

Background

This call for help comes from Vilankulo tourism operators who have
participated in the “Stakeholders Forum”. The forum provides the
opportunity for public participation and comment in the drafting of an
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed offshore exploration
project in blocks 16 and 19. Sasol’s current proposal includes extensive
use of seismic surveying to determine the location of undersea
hydrocarbon resources.

We are opposed to Sasol’s exploration proposal for the following
reasons:

ï Underwater seismic exploration threatens marine life

Seismic exploration involves 250-decibel explosions of compressed air
for a period of 3 months, every 9 – 12 seconds, for 24 hours a day.
These explosions can be felt (heard) over large distances. Humans can’t
dive safely in the immediate vicinity, and most sea life is threatened.

ï The concession area surrounds the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park
and protected areas

The Bazaruto Archipelago contains important marine habitats protected by
the law. In our opinion these areas are not adequately protected from
negative effects of the proposed exploration project.

ï Offshore exploratory well-drilling is a hazardous activity

In the event of an accident or spillage, liquid or gas hydrocarbons will
be dispersed by currents and winds over large areas along the coast, and
will certainly affect protected areas.

Our concerns with the current proposal include:

1. Lack of an adequate buffer zone

The proposed 1500m buffer zone around coral structures is inadequate.
The negative effects of seismic exploration on the wildlife and
sensitive habitat within the BANP may be minimised by a suitable buffer
zone. Buffer zones are common international practise. We believe that a
50 km buffer zone would be adequate.

2. Conflict with the Environment Law of Mozambique

The exploration contract may be in conflict with the Environmental Law
of Mozambique (Law 20/97 of 1 October 1997). The Environmental Law
restricts activities that negatively affect protected marine species and
areas. We believe that the seismic surveys represent the sort of threat
envisaged in the Law.

3. Conflict with the Strategic Plan for the Development of
Tourism in Mozambique

We believe the contract undermines the Strategic Plan for the
Development of Tourism in Moçambique (2004 – 2013) in the National Park
and surrounding areas. The Government of Mozambique has gone to great
lengths to develop tourism in Priority Areas for Tourism (PATI’s). These
plans in the area are at risk of being undone.

4. Lack of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The Government of Mozambique committed itself in October 2005 to conduct
a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the area. We believe that
the SEA must be completed before the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
is reviewed by the Ministry for the Co-ordination of Environmental
Affairs (MICOA).

5. Night-time Surveys

Seismic testing needs to be stopped if observers detect marine mammals
in the area. Sasol propose 24hr seismic testing using unproven
passive-acoustic monitoring technologies to compensate for the lack of
visibility at night – their motivation being that it reduces the costs
of seismic surveys. We are opposed to night-time seismic surveys.

6. Sasol reserves the right to drill in shallow water

The draft EIR recommends that seismic testing be postponed in waters
shallower than 50m adjacent to the BANP area, subject to studies on the
endangered Dugong population. Sasol has reserved the right to do
exploratory well-drilling in these same waters. We believe that until
the studies on the dugong population have been done, no exploratory
activity should be undertaken at all.

7. Accidents

While we note Sasol’s adoption of international safety standards for the
project, accidents do happen. There have been 7 industrial accidents in
the past 2 years at Sasol operations. Any accident in the proposed
blocks would be catastrophic to this environmentally sensitive area.

We support the Government of Mozambique’s rights and responsibilities to
exploit national hydrocarbon reserves - but are deeply concerned that
the BANP and endangered species are not adequately protected from real
and potential impacts of hydrocarbon activities.

With your help we will do all we can to ensure that our concerns with
the project are adequately addressed before government approval of any
offshore exploration project.

The draft EIR is open for public comment until the 28th of June. All
comments will be collated into a Comments Report that will be included
in the final EIR. Send your comments to Consultec,
elanga@consultec.co.mz. Your contribution will help protect an important
marine habitat.

Detailed information about the proposed offshore exploration is
available at www.erm.com/sasoleia.

If you want to do more, contact us and provide your endorsement,
suggestions and/or offer of assistance.

Contact us at resist@explorationblock.org or browse at
www.explorationblock.org

Please forward this document to any other interested parties.

Vilankulo Tourism Sector

This is the sawac@geasphere mailing list. To Join or Leave, contact
wac@geasphere.co.za
www.geasphere.co.za