Meeting with Advasol

See email correspondence below from Martin Coetzee, the Advocate who is legally representing some of the Blombos Conservancy members.

He writes as follows:

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with some feedback of the meeting with Advasol/Golder on Friday, 25 June 2010.

I was accompanied by Jean Te Water Naude, Johan Bothma (Agri Western Cape) and Charl de Villiers (representing AWC)

Advasol was represented by two directors (Francois Roos and Gerrit van Wyk). Erika du Preez represented Golder.

The meeting lasted for almost two hours and quite frankly in my opinion presented the objectors with no more information apart from the very little already known.

As I was instructed it was recorded that this meeting was not to be regarded as a public participation meeting and as far as we were concerned its purpose was to obtain more information to enable the objectors to submit an informed response. It was also made clear that commenting on the generalised EMP would serve absolutely no purpose unless adequate information on the application and the applicant is provided.

It was very evident that Advasol is adamant in proceeding with this application. We were informed that a lot of funds have been utilised to obtain the latest state of the art equipment to carry out what is referred to as the non-invasive exploration. Advasol was however not prepared to divulge any more information on the exploration work program, the geology data available or results of desk top analysis, since it was “commercially sensitive”.

It was explained that Advasol has access to enough funds since they are a subsidiary of Ice Finance (Pty) Ltd (apparently a South African Investment Company). Advasol’s shareholders at this stage are , a company Crystal Exploration (Pty) Ltd, BL Masethla and the Trustees of the Mamphore Trust. On the question where then does Ice Finance fit in as holding company, it was deducted from the reply that it could possibly be the holding company of Crystal Exploration. Advasol was however not prepared to provide any information about financial ability.

It was also clear that Advasol/Golder would prefer to have one on one discussions with land owners to explain the process and what the impact of it all would be on the properties concerned. It certainly was my impression that the Stilbaai area could well be the epicentre of the exploration process.

Advasol had a problem with the instructions by PASA that an EMP for the drilling process be submitted, for the simple reason that they are not in a position to present any concrete information on the drilling without first having completed the non-invasive process.

Their attention was drawn to the fact that the application process could be technically deficient and that all legal requirements were not met. Their response was that they would then obtain a legal opinion in this regard. If there were deficiencies it will be rectified – even if they have to withdraw the application and immediately resubmit. Advasol was however of the opinion that if they do this, someone else would seize the opportunity and they certainly would choose not to lose the initiative gained thus far.

It was admitted by Advasol that they do not have exploration or production experience – they however have extensive experience and expertise in large scale commercial and residential land development projects. The envisaged exploration and research are new areas of enterprise in which they will be assisted by relevant experts, third party consultants including Golder’s appointed geological advisers, Geo-Consult International (Pty) Ltd. At this stage they are looking at a possible contractual relationship with, amongst others, leading specialist drilling contractors, such as Black Viper Energy Service Limited, a Texas based firm.

Regarding a request for more specific information on the directly affected properties it was merely stated that a wide area of potential interest has been identified for the purposes of the application in order to safeguard the commercially sensitivity and confidentiality of this project.

Their motivation for this exploration is that hydrocarbons/natural gases represent an alternative and less environmentally detrimental source of potential energy to power the country’s growing electrical needs than the current dependence on coal-based energy from Eskom. The potential footprint of any production facility that may be developed should the exploration initiatives prove commercially viable and technically feasible would be significantly smaller and less intrusive.

Apart from these mission statements no further and specific information can be divulged because of it being commercially sensitive and confidential.

Confronted with the biodiversity and conservancy nature of the area, their response was that they would refrain from any exploration in declared and registered conservancy areas or nature reserves. As far as they were concerned neither the Blombosch or Duiwehoks conservancy areas were registered or enjoy legislative protection. It is regarded as initiatives by land owners.

As far as I am concerned the meeting did not assist in any way in getting substantial information. Advasol however said that they would consider providing some documents requested, but will block out what they regard as commercially sensitive information.

Based upon the meeting it therefore is my opinion that PASA be approached and certain points emphasised –
Ø It simply is not possible to comment on an application et al that we are not privy to have had insight to. It certainly would be detracting from all affected parties’ rights if they were not afforded a reasonable opportunity to consider and comment on matters that affect their rights;

Ø A “deadline” of 2 July 2010 is to say the least, ridiculous. PASA should indicate a reasonable time to comment after being provided with the information requested

Ø The consultation process was and is a farce – it would appear that it is being rushed and only superficial and inadequate information is provided.

I will be drafting a communication in this regard to PASA – in my opinion PASA’s role is not to accommodate the applicant, but a public service where the rights of the public and especially the affected land owners should be upheld at all times.

I also have had extensive discussions with Dr De Ville Wincker, an expert petroleum exploration geologist who has worked for thirty years in this field and who has written extensively on the hydrocarbon geology in especially the Riversdale area – his concern is that the Applicant provides no geological basis for their application and as far as he is concerned, documented data indicates that the possibility of finding natural gases in the areas applied for is negligent.

It is trusted that the above would provide some further insight into what all land owners are being confronted with.

Will keep you posted on further developments.

Regards

Martin

6 thoughts on “Meeting with Advasol

  • July 5, 2010 at 3:27 pm
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    Exploration for Natural Gas
    It is surprising that anybody will find it concerning that a country or an individual will attempt to explorer for natural gas sighting concerns to the environment. There is no doubt that the exploration of natural gas is by far the most environmental friendly use of energy on this planet.
    Human mankind has a demand for energy and as the economy growths so does the demand for energy. Worldwide engineers endeavor to supply energy for the demand in a manner to not disturb the environment to the detriment .The facts are unumbiques explained further in this article that the use of natural gas for the purposes of generation power will have a profound effect on not only the economic growth but the preservation of the environment .It is clear that both power and water are the basic necessities for economic growth witch is the basis of growth. Surely there must be harmony between growth and the exploitation of natural resources and the preservation of the environment. South Africa currently produces 40000 MW of electric energy using predominately coal based resources which by far is a fuel damaging to the environment. It is surprising that someone will post a concern related to the environment based on an attempt to explore natural gas. The facts surly proof an alternate energy source which is significantly more efficient and friendly to the environment. The writer believes that these concerns are based on a lack of knowledge rather than fact.
    The company has launched an application for a license to explore for the occurrence of natural gas in an area covering the costal areas of the Western Cape. The submission includes detailed planes to protect the natural fauna and flora of the area, implementing the most advanced technologies to limit intervention for the natural state to be preserved but to achieve the goal to find an alternate for coal powered energy generation.
    In an informed opinion the writer finds it surprising that anybody sighting the preservation of the environment will find a problem with the fundamental idea.
    South African citizens should be sensitive to the capital expenditures of its government during the past and must exercise its democratic right to elect its current leadership to maintain a sound economic future for the people of the country. MossGas was the single largest capital project inisiated by the South African government based on natural gas resources explored during the 1980’s on the anticipation that further resources will be successfully exploited. It is clear that this capital investment was done on the promise of geological information at the time which turned out to be unreliable. It far surpasses the understanding of the writer that people will have concerns to further exploration for the occurrence of natural gas in the greater area of MossGas to the end to meet the demand of the single largeste capital investment this country has made.
    It is understood that even with the best of intent that the environment should not be harmed more than what is needed to create a stable economy and or a place of safety for our children to become adults.
    The complaints lodged on your blog seem to be motivated by an ill intent to preserve personal value rather than taking cognizance of the greater good of humanity. An informed decision would be to limit emissions of greenhouse gasses including methane and carbon monoxide but exploiting methane which will inevitably reside in the atmosphere, as a fuel to generate efficient power for economic growth to replace coal generated power.
    There is a school of thought that believes that Natural Gas will eventually end up in the atmosphere. Exploiting natural gas for the purposes of generating power therefor has an immense effect on reducing emissions firstly using the best fuel to generate power and secondly to burn the methane which would eventually act as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
    South Africans were first introduced to load shedding during 2008 and it is abundantly clear that the demand exceeds the supply excluding any expansion in demand. Since February 2008 the demand decreased significantly due to the economic slowdown resulting in some of the bulk users of power to reduce their demand. It is however clear that when the economic conditions change that the demand will increase significantly in a short period of time since the bulk users have only temporarily shut down equipment to align the companies with the slowdown. A small growth rate of 5% annually will cause a demand for addition power of 2000 MW annually.
    Greenhouse effect
    The contribution to the greenhouse effect by a gas is affected by both the characteristics of the gas and its abundance. For example, on a molecule-for-molecule basis methane is about eighty times stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but it is present in much smaller concentrations so that its total contribution is smaller. When these gases are ranked by their contribution to the greenhouse effect, the most important are:
    • water vapor, which contributes 36–72%
    • carbon dioxide, which contributes 9–26%
    • methane, which contributes 4–9%
    • ozone, which contributes 3–7%
    It is not possible to state that a certain gas causes an exact percentage of the greenhouse effect. This is because some of the gases absorb and emit radiation at the same frequencies as others, so that the total greenhouse effect is not simply the sum of the influence of each gas. The higher ends of the ranges quoted are for each gas alone; the lower ends account for overlaps with the other gases. The major non-gas contributor to the Earth’s greenhouse effect, clouds, also absorbs and emits infrared radiation and thus has an effect on the radiate properties of the greenhouse gases.
    It was recognized in the early 20th century that the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused the Earth’s overall temperature to be higher than it would be without them.
    The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report compiled by the IPCC (AR4) noted that “changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, land cover and solar radiation alter the energy balance of the climate system”, and concluded that “increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations is very likely to have caused most of the increases in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century”. In AR4, “most of” is defined as more than 50%.
    Mass of carbon monoxide emitted per quantity of energy for various fuels

    Fuel name CO2
    emitted
    (lbs/106 Btu) CO2
    emitted
    (g/106 J)
    Natural Gas 117 50.30
    Liquefied petroleum gas 139 59.76
    Propane 139 59.76
    Aviation gasoline 153 65.78
    Automobile gasoline 156 67.07
    Kerosene 159 68.36
    Fuel oil 161 69.22
    Tires/tire derived fuel 189 81.26
    Wood and wood waste 195 83.83
    Coal (bituminous) 205 88.13
    Coal (sub-bituminous) 213 91.57
    Coal (lignite) 215 92.43
    Petroleum coke 225 96.73
    Coal (anthracite) 227 97.59

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  • July 7, 2010 at 12:33 am
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    Thanks Pieter for this perspective.

    What do others think?

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  • July 26, 2010 at 11:24 am
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    All these secret Companies and Trusts make one very suspicious.
    Who or what is ‘Pieter’ – is he a really independent engineer, maybe retired like me, or has he a financial ambition to be rewarded by whoever the main people are, or maybe he is already being paid for his experience and expertise.
    I am sure he is a respectable and charming guy trying to contribute to a highly contentious subject – if so, please tell everyone in a nice, simple and straightforward way where he is coming from.
    brian

    Reply
  • July 28, 2010 at 3:19 am
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    Pieter’s argument is spurious and nothing short of propaganda. To say that a ‘collective’ reduction in our carbon footprint offered by this exploration, should it of course be successful, justifies the process is spurious. There are endless alternatives to achieve this aim without destructive processes. There seems NO geological evidence and NO clear volumes of extraction without which this application can only be regarded as highly suspicious. All too often developers of any kind argue for a balance between environment and development, but it is ALWAYS the environment that takes the hit and developers that use political and financial muscle to circumvent the laws put in place to protect our environment. His long winded sermon on climate change and alternative energy does nothing to support his argument or justify any exploration whatsoever. The statement ” that even with the best of intent that the environment should not be harmed more than what is needed to create a stable economy ….” exposes his position that environmental damage is simply collatoral damage in the course of ‘progress’. Who decides what is acceptable? Who gives this company the right to threaten or damage a region where it is already very evident that it contains the secrets of the origins of modern man? It is of immense global significance. This alone makes it an absolutely ‘no go’ area. Their application could also well be the thin edge of the wedge – present an horrendous concept of exploration and anything less becomes more palatable and easier to push through. Advasol are land developers. Go figure.

    If Advasol believe they can push this through they should take a look at recent history – Verlorenvlei Coalition fought back and have stopped any further mining for Tungsten costing the developers millions. Mining applications for silver in the Stellenbosch winelands was abruptly halted due to public pressure. This one, simply will not happen.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2010 at 7:04 am
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    MEDIA STATEMENT
    Cape Town 05 August 2010

    FEEDBACK FROM PUBLIC MEETINGS

    As part of its natural gas exploration license application process, ADVASOL’s independent environmental agency, Golder Associates, held a series of ‘open house’ meetings during the week commencing 26 July in Cape Town, Bredasdorp, Witsand and Albertinia. These public meetings were administered and organised by Golder Associates, with the objective of supplying relevant information, answering queries and giving the opportunity to formally lodge any objections.

    Overall, ADVASOL believes that these public participation meetings were positive and helped to promote mutual understanding. Information was shared with communities and interested parties and ADVASOL was able to hear their concerns and respond to individuals directly – including the Deputy Mayor of the Hessequa municipality. The company welcomed the opportunity to dispel some of the communities’ fears, explain the benefits arising from potential exploration in the area and give assurances of the company’s integrity and best intentions.

    The first meeting in Cape Town (27 July) was inconclusive, though, because most of the queries raised related to the process of gas extraction instead of the exploration license application. As ADVASOL was not able, at this stage, to answer these questions, the interested parties were frustrated. However, the next three meetings were far more constructive as the communities and interested parties were able to engage with ADVASOL Directors on a one-to-one basis and lodge their concerns with Golder Associates. All these concerns will be included in the Environmental Management Plan Reports (EMPRs) which will be submitted to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) as part of the license application approval process. PASA is the South African governing body for the petroleum and gas industry.

    Many issues were raised and documented, the most common of which are:

     Impact on marine life
     Impact on flora and fauna
     Seepage of gas or other chemicals in scarce water reserves
     Harmful emissions in the area.

    Over the next few weeks, ADVASOL also plans to release more information to the communities to address each of these concerns.

    The public participation meetings were held between 10h00 and 14h00 (to include the lunch period) in order to encourage as many interested parties to attend as possible. However, all those who were unable to attend, who has not registered and who wants to register, may send – before 15 August 2010 – their full name, contact details and if applicable property details to:

     Erika du Plessis / Heleen Pretorius
    Public Participation Office (Pretoria)
    Golder Associates Africa (Pty) Ltd
    P O Box 13776, Hatfield 0028
    Tel: 012 366 0100
    Fax: 012 366 0111
    Email: eduplessis@golder.co.za
    hpretorius@golder.co.za

    NOTES
    1. ADVASOL (Pty) Ltd is a South African hydrocarbon exploration company, which has identified the opportunity to unlock the value of potential gas reserves in the Western Cape using sophisticated and non-invasive exploration methodologies.

    2. ADVASOL was formed after the company’s owners were involved in the development of Menlyn Maine, a city in the Tshwane municipality that’s dedicated to green living and staying carbon neutral. Discussions about where sustainable and natural energy could be found led ADVASOL to the conclusion that natural gas is the solution. While other sources such as wind and solar were considered, the costs are too high relative to the benefits.

    3. Natural gas is by far the cleanest and most environmentally neutral of all the fossil fuels and, crucially, it’s financially viable and can be extracted affordably. Until now, no viable natural gas supply has been found on South African soil. Previous gas mining techniques have involved studying the geology of an area to identify possible gas supplies, sending a shock wave into the earth (seismic testing) and then drilling 20 to 30 holes. This is not only unreliable but it is also not eco-friendly.

    4. ADVASOL has invested in technology such as satellite imaging, Magneto-tellurics and Induced Polarisation rather than experimentation. This is a less invasive technique and reduces both the negative ecological as well as the financial impact dramatically. Using non-invasive satellite technology, ADVASOL is able to determine where gas is being emitted from the earth’s surface and then begin the process of investigating the feasibility of extracting it.

    5. Reserve and protected areas will not be selected for potential extraction sites. These would be located in non-sensitive areas and operations methodologies will be designed to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Piping of the gas from the region will be handled through underground piping in order to ensure limited impact on the environment and to protect the visual beauty of the region.

    6. THE PROCESS
    In respect of its exploration license applications, ADVASOL has appointed an independent environmental consultancy, Golder Associates Africa (Pty) Ltd, to compile the necessary Environmental Management Plan Reports (EMPRs). Altogether, ADVASOL has applied for nine exploration licenses. Environmental management programme reports (EMPRs) have been carried out for three of ADVASOL’s license applications, namely: Stillbaai, Struisbaai and Offshore East. The necessary EMPRs for the remaining six licenses are currently being completed.

    None of the license applications include the right to explore for or ultimately extract hydrocarbon within any Nature Reserve or marine reserve areas. The reason the offshore areas have been included on the map (in the bid document) is because, if a hydrocarbon discovery is made onshore and the deposit is partly on and offshore, ADVASOL will need permission to extract this offshore gas from an onshore location.

    7. WHAT DOES THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME COVER?
    The minimum that the EMPs will include are:

     A description of the area in which the licence will operate and its environment
     An assessment of the significance of potential impacts of the exploration
     A description of how any negative impacts will be mitigated
     A plan of how the process will be monitored and assessed
     A record of the public participation process.

    8. WHAT NEXT?
    Once the licenses are approved by PASA, ADVASOL will then begin the process of non-invasive exploration and will advise all interested parties at each stage of the process, which is likely to involve the following:

     Data compilation and desktop studies
     Satellite image processing and interpretation.
    9. WHY?
    South Africa is in the grip of a power crisis. The country’s power supply is limited and can barely meet present, let alone future, needs; this means that energy is becoming a key critical issue facing this country.
    -ends-

    For more information, please contact Wired Communications on 021 464 1144.

    Karey Evett
    082 789 8932
    ke@wiredcommunications.co.za

    Bavani Naidoo
    083 557 6985
    bavani@wiredcommunications.co.za

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  • August 11, 2010 at 7:05 am
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    The above FEEDBACK FROM PUBLIC MEETINGS post was issued on behalf of Advasol

    Reply

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