1. Purpose of the Gas Pipeline and Electricity Grid Infrastructure Expansion SEA
1.1. How will the SEA Process facilitate the efficient and effective construction of Gas Transmission Pipeline Infrastructure and the expansion of strategic Electricity Grid Infrastructure in South Africa?
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Process is aimed at integrating environmental, economic and social factors to identify areas where Gas Transmission Pipeline and Electricity Grid Infrastructure (EGI) construction and expansion will have the lowest possible impact on the environment whilst yielding the highest possible social and economic development opportunities to the country. This process will ensure that future Gas Transmission Pipeline and EGI development in these areas is done sustainably.
The SEA Process provides a platform for iGas, Transnet, Eskom, government departments, private sector, and non-government institutions to partner and provide input into where strategic gas and electrical transmission infrastructure should be prioritised and corridors established. The intent is for agreement and commitment to be officiated through Cabinet approval and a gazetting process.
The cabinet approval and gazetting of the corridors and the outputs of the SEA (final corridors, Environmental Management Programme, Norms or Standards and the pre-construction Site Specific Environmental Assessment Protocol) will allow for alignment of the three spheres of government (including National, Provincial and Local Government) by adopting the corridors and its associated processes into future policies and spatial plans (e.g. Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Spatial Development Framework (SDFs)). This will, in turn, create an enabling environment which will allow for the streamlining of development processes in these corridors.
- Strategic Planning
The certainty resulting from the adoption of the corridors will allow potential developers to be more proactive when undertaking servitude negotiation with landowners and agree on land parcels and route options based on environmental sensitivity, upfront. Gazetted corridors will also help potential developers to motivate for the necessary funding to build in these corridors.
1.2. What will incentivise developers to develop in the corridors rather than outside?
The outcomes of the SEA will assist in developing in these areas by:
- Decreasing Risk
The high level agreement and commitment to the corridors will decrease the risk of not obtaining authorisation, should potential developers target areas for development that have been pre-assessed and classified as having lower levels of environmental sensitivity.
Potential developers will be able to assess many risks upfront (including environmental, access to land and cost of land) prior to seeking authorisation for a specific route, if applicable.
- Streamlined Process
The corridors represent pre-assessed areas that are best suitable for the development of gas and electrical transmission infrastructure and within which a streamlined environmental permitting process is proposed or where development of such infrastructure would be exempt from environmental authorisation. In addition to scoping level assessment of the corridors, interdepartmental and intergovernmental alignment will allow for streamlined authorisation processes. This will include obtaining the necessary authorisations for other permit requirements such as Water Use Licenses and Forest Clearing Permits.
1.3. How many gas transmission pipelines and EGI power lines will be built in each of the corridors, and will they be constructed in a particular sequence?
- Gas Transmission Pipelines:
It is difficult to comment on exactly how many new gas transmission lines will be constructed in each corridor as the possible sources of offshore gas is based on the geology offshore and these reserves have not yet been proven. In addition, South Africa’s future demand and generation footprint is unclear. However, it is estimated that one gas transmission pipeline will be constructed within each corridor, as the pipeline will be driven by finding a gas reserve and will only be constructed based on a business case.
The proposed project phases are independent of each other and each one will be based on its own business case.
The corridors can be considered the future transmission backbone of South Africa. Transmission level power lines already exist within each of the expanded EGI corridors. Where possible; existing lines will be upgraded to support additional capacity. It is difficult to comment on exactly how many new power lines will be necessary in each corridor as the composition and geographical distribution of South Africa’s future generation footprint is still unclear. Based on current and available information, no more than three or four new transmission level lines will be needed within each expanded corridor over the course of the next 30 years. The upgrade and development of major transmission substations will also be necessary in each of the expanded corridors.
2. Environmental Authorisation in the Corridors
2.1. Will the SEA replace the need for project level environmental authorisation within the corridors?
The scoping level of environmental assessment undertaken as part of the SEA is not sufficient for project level decision making in terms of NEMA, and further assessments will still be necessary once a specific project is proposed to be constructed. With the scoping requirements being met inside of the corridors, all Gas Transmission Pipeline and Electricity Grid Infrastructure (EGI) projects, and associated infrastructures, that currently require Environmental Authorisation will either follow a streamlined project level environmental assessment process, for example, in the form of a Basic Assessment (BA), or compliance with a Norm or Standard that will be compiled as part of the SEA (where the need for an Environmental Authorisation application will be negated). The scope of the project level process in the corridors will be informed by the pre-construction Site Specific Environmental Assessment Protocols, and will be undertaken in accordance with the relevant regulations current at the time.
2.2. How will integrated authorisation be accomplished?
The SEA Process provides a platform for competent authorities and other permitting or commenting agencies to provide their requirements for development in the corridors upfront. Consensus will be reached on how these requirements will be incorporated into the pre-construction Site Specific Environmental Assessment Protocol. If a proposed project complies with the requirements of the pre-construction Site Specific Environmental Assessment Protocol, it would imply that all the requirements of authorising and permitting authorities have been met, and thus either a single inclusive permit can be issued or multiple authorisations and permits can be issued at the same time.
3. Scope of the SEA
3.1. Is the SEA only considering transmission infrastructure within the corridors?
- Gas Transmission Pipelines:
This SEA covers high pressure onshore gas transmission pipelines (i.e. with a pressure greater than 15 bar) and associated infrastructure, including pigging stations, block valves and access roads. Note that compressor stations are excluded from this scope of work. The purpose of this proposed gas pipeline is to transport large quantities of the gas to various markets. The receiver of the gas will be responsible for obtaining their own project specific environmental authorisations, dependent on their specific business case, including for distribution and reticulation to end users.
The location of the preliminary corridors is based on the results of a detailed Eskom Strategic Grid Plan study to determine future transmission needs across South Africa in the context of balancing major power supply and demand requirements up to 2040. Therefore, the final location of the corridors will be based on transmission level need only (rather than distribution level) and will facilitate the future transmission backbone of South Africa. However, any change in the Environmental Authorisation process within the corridors, which may be brought about as a result of this assessment, will apply to both transmission and distribution level EGI infrastructure.
4. What issues will be assessed in the SEA?
The SEA will follow a holistic approach, recognising the interconnectivity of environmental, social, and economic opportunities and constraints. The following Strategic Issues have been identified as part of the scope of the assessment:
|Specialist Study||Assessment Type||Strategic Issue|
|Biodiversity and Ecological Impacts||Multi-Author||Terrestrial Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna (including Bats):
Aquatic Ecosystems, Flora and Fauna:
|Socio-Economic and Planning Assessment||Multi-Author||
|Seismicity||Multi-Author||Earthquakes and Faults|
In addition to the above, a Soils and Agricultural specialist will provide inputs to the sensitivity mapping, EMPr and Protocols for the agricultural land component.
5. Who will assess the identified issues?
Authors comprising the Multi-Author Teams within the specified Strategic Issues will undertake the assessment. The Authors will require acknowledged expertise and have been drawn from a broad range of independent specialists and sectors such as research institutions, government, NGOs, universities, the energy and oil and gas sector, etc., and across different regions of South Africa to ensure a broad balance of interest is represented through the reporting structures.
6. What is the primary output of the SEA?
The primary output of the SEA will be a Decision-making Framework to be interpreted by the relevant authorities. This will consist of:
- Final corridors;
- Sensitivity, vulnerability and risk spatial datasets for surface and subsurface environmental attributes;
- Recommended pre-construction Site Specific Environmental Assessment Protocols detailing the level of site specific assessment required;
- Generic Environmental Management Program (EMPr) framework and principles; and
- Norms or Standards.
7. How will stakeholders be engaged during the SEA?
- Briefings, Outreach and Participation
There will be two rounds of public outreach during this SEA. The first round took place from 1 November 2017 to 13 November 2017 to inform the public of the SEA Process and to introduce the draft initial corridors. This round of public outreach took place in Cape Town, East London, Johannesburg, Durban, Springbok and George. A second round of public outreach is expected to be undertaken at the end of Phase 2 when the specialist assessment is completed and the finalised corridors are available for comment. It is likely that the second round of public outreach will be conducted at the same locations as those in the first round.
The purpose of the public briefings is not to capture comments in a ‘town-hall’ fashion (similar to what would be undertaken as part of an EIA Process), but to engage meaningfully on issues and keep people informed of the mechanisms by which they can access information and documents and make comments. It should be noted that the SEA is not a project-level, EIA Process subject to the NEMA EIA Regulations for public participation. It is a national level strategic assessment tool, which is designed, where practically possible, to engage with as many stakeholders as far as possible.
- Commenting on Reports
Outputs of the assessment, in report format, will be peer reviewed. Validation through a peer review process is key to ensuring the quality, and thus the credibility of the assessment. Peer review is a standard way of approving the quality of information in the scientific community.
Furthermore, the involvement of different users in the review process is important as it can provide a much broader range of comments, form part of the communication strategy, and contribute to ongoing user engagement in the process. In this regard, all formal comments from ‘general’ stakeholders on reports will be captured via the project website when documents are made available over certain window review periods. Official comments will be captured and responded to in a formal manner, subject to the ‘user conditions’ under which they are submitted.
- How can I participate in the Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA?
You can participate in the SEA by registering as a stakeholder on the Stakeholder Portal page of this website. As a registered stakeholder you are able to log in to the SEA website to:
- Make official written comments on the draft reports via the project website or via email during specified Report Commenting Windows (RCWs) (these comments will be captured and responded to in the final reports); and
- Keep up to date on project progress and key milestones.
Comments submitted during the RCWs and during the Public Outreach meetings will form part of the official project report.
If stakeholders have any queries or encounter any technical difficulties during the registration process, they are welcome to contact the project team using the contact details provided on the “Contact Us” webpage on the project website.
8. How wide will the gas transmission pipeline servitude be during the construction and operational phases; and how deep will the gas transmission pipeline be?
A 30 m to 50 m wide construction right of way would be required during the construction phase.
A servitude width of 10 m would be registered on the affected properties during the operational phase. The laying of the proposed gas pipeline would follow the normal servitude procedures and there would be negotiations with the land owners which are affected at the time. The final route selection will depend on these servitude negotiations, on a project specific basis, and the obtaining of the necessary environmental approvals (which will be guided by this SEA Process).
The top of the proposed pipeline would be approximately 1 m underground all along the route, with pigging stations above ground approximately every 130 km but possibly as far apart as 250-500 km with new technology.
9. Will National Government fund the construction of the gas transmission pipelines?
Although iGas, Transnet and Eskom are involved in the Gas Pipeline and EGI Expansion SEA and are State Owned Companies (SOCs), the proposed pipeline development will not be financed by government. It will be financed by developers based on each viable business case.
10. What is the current uptake of Natural Gas in South Africa, and where will the Natural Gas be sourced from?
The current uptake of gas in South Africa is estimated at 196 million GJ/a, from the Pande Temane fields in Mozambique to Sasol’s Secunda Gas-to Liquids facility. Sasol’s Gas Pipeline Network from Secunda and Gauteng is estimated at 45 million GJ/a. Transnet’s Lilly Pipeline supplies methane rich gas (MRG) from Sasol to Durban with offtake points in Newcastle, Empangeni, Richards Bay and Durban, with a current transportation volume of 23 MGJ/a. There is also PetroSA’s subsea pipeline to Mossel Bay.
The natural gas will potentially be sourced offshore of South Africa’s coast or imported (which includes LNG and gas from Mozambique). However, Shale Gas from the Karoo has also been identified as a potential driver and should be considered.
11. What is the recommended distance of the gas transmission pipeline infrastructure from other infrastructure, including EGI?
The minimum distance for other structures from the gas transmission pipeline is 1 km from high voltage electrical transmission lines and between 300 m and 500 m for other structures, depending on the diameter of and gas pressure in the pipeline. Research also points to other factors for consideration e.g., the longer the two infrastructure run in parallel (in this case specifically gas and EGI) the higher the probability of induced electric current in the pipeline as well as the possibility of current leakage to the pipeline in the event of a pipeline coating failure or during lighting strikes. Consideration must also be given to the “burning radius” which means that, in the case of a pipeline leak and gas ignition, anything within that radius will burn immediately. This is about 800 m (worst case scenario at ~ 100bar). Therefore, based on the above it is recommended that a “safety margin or factor” of at least 5x is applied to the 1 km stated – therefore 5 km distance is considered to be the safest distance from high voltage electrical transmission lines.
12. Why are the previously gazetted Northern and Eastern Electrical Grid Infrastructure (EGI) being expanded to the border of Namibia and Mozambique, respectively?
The extension of the EGI is to assess the corridors to the borders of South Africa, to support potential business cases extending to Mozambique and Namibia, as well as to facilitate potential import and export of power in these regions.