Stakeholders strengthen pipeline EIA

SRK Consulting completed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the South African component of a petroleum pipeline proposed by Petroline Holdings Ltd. Because this 380km linear development crosses from Matola in Mozambique through Mpumalanga to Kendal in South Africa, an extensive public participation process was needed to ensure representative stakeholder involvement. The pipeline represents the first private petroleum development of its kind in South Africa. SRK’s specialist team selected the proposed corridor to minimise hydrological, ecological, economic and social impacts from a number of alternative routes initially identified by Petroline.

A great deal of comment was received from stakeholders in the Lowveld and Escarpment regions, who were apprehensive about the proposed pipeline development. In particular, stakeholders were concerned about damage to scarce water resources from potential petroleum leaks and spills, ecological impacts from constructing and operating the pipeline, about loss of production on high-value farmland and devaluation of the land.

The comments received proved valuable to the EIA process. As a result, SRK recognised the critical importance of adopting effective safety and engineering design measures to prevent leaks and spills and, in the EIA report, stipulated comprehensive measures to avoid and mitigate such impacts. The EIA also specified the precise alignment of the final routing of the pipeline to minimise impacts on sensitive natural habitats, including wetlands, grasslands and scarp forests. Guidelines on the process for compensating landowners within the pipeline right-of-way were also presented. Further, in response to landowners’ requests, a resource economist was appointed to compare the suitability of two route alternatives up the escarpment, and to present the findings to the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism for their consideration during authorisation.

Lyn Brown:
Darryll Kilian:

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