The news of Total’s significant gas discovery off the southern coast of South Africa has been met with concern from environmental activist groups.

Greenpeace Africa has condemned the French oil and gas company’s exploration operations.

“Greenpeace Africa strongly condemns Total’s reckless oil exploration off the coast of South Africa,” notes Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager.

Steel says the discovery of more oil and gas is not something to celebrate when burning fossil fuels is driving potentially catastrophic climate change.

Total recently announced that it had made a condensate gas discovery on the Brulpadda prospects, located on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin, 175 kilometers off the southern coast of the country.

A risky operation

“This is essentially oil that we cannot afford to burn in the face of extreme weather conditions and recurrent droughts,” Steel explains.

“Deep sea drilling is far too risky. The possibility for an oil spill always exists, and the environmental impacts of deep sea drilling for oil and gas are too significant to be ignored, with very little benefit or job creation for South Africans,” she continues.

“It is reckless of the South African government to allow oil and gas exploration to go ahead, and unfortunate that this was lauded as a victory at the State of the Nation Address,” Steele adds.

An economic boost

Meanwhile Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, says the gas discovery represents an exciting time for the country.

“It is exciting for our country that this discovery has been made. It is potentially a major boost for the economy, and we welcome it as we continue to seek investment to grow our economy,” he explains.

However Greenpeace maintains that the country should be backing renewable energy especially since South Africa is blessed with some of the best renewable energy resources.