Lagos — The Government of the Republic of South Sudan has announced a tender for a comprehensive environmental audit of all the country’s producing oilfields.
Ahead of any new exploration and drilling, the government has committed to conducting an environmental audit.
Minister of Petroleum, Hon. Awow Daniel Chuang, explains that understanding the pollution damage will allow the country to put systems in place to prevent further damage as the country looks to ramp up production.
At a media briefing late in August 2019 in Juba, President Salva Kiir warned that his government would be taking a stronger stance against pollution in oil-producing areas.
And while the government is eager to welcome new exploration and production, companies would be held to a high standard. The era of “bad business” was coming to an end.
He warned, “I will not tolerate irresponsible activities in the oil sector.”
The Petroleum Act of 2012, enacted a year after independence, governs the oil sector in South Sudan. The Act is designed to better manage the environmental impact of the sector after years of neglect prior to independence, and the resulting pollution.
Civil war also prevented the proper management of the environment, based on environmentally, socially and economically sustainable principles.
South Sudan is now faced with the challenge of balancing developmental needs with the spirit of environmental protection enshrined in the Petroleum Act.
The sector has in the past caused a loss of grazing land, deforestation, soil and water contamination, and health issues in and around oil-producing areas.
President Kiir, writing in the South Sudan First State of Environment and Outlook Report in 2018, explained the country’s desire to become the bread basket and economic powerhouse of East-Central Africa.
“The lack of environmental standards and guidelines to safeguard the exploration and exploitation in the extractive industry has led to pollution in the oilfields and in the surrounding areas. This trend needs to be checked through the formulation of environmental policies, standards and guidelines, and enforcement of these instruments.”
An international independent organisation will now be appointed to conduct the audit, mandated to suggest best practices for new exploration as well as ways to repair the historical damage in South Sudan.