Minimal impact on fish species from oil drilling

Ogone Tlhage
Fish species are unlikely to be affected by oil exploration and drilling activities currently being carried out by French oil giant TotalEnergies, a scoping report prepared by SLR Consulting has shown.

TotalEnergies recently applied to conduct further exploration following the significance of its Venus X1 well earlier this year.

Allaying fears that the discovery may impact Namibia’s fish resources, the company said further exploration activities would largely not affect fish stocks.

TotalEnergies is the operator with a 40% working interest, alongside QatarEnergy (30%), Impact Oil and Gas (20%), and the state-owned National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (10%).

Reuters has previously reported that the well could hold as much as 1 billion barrels of oil.

Out of range

The block is situated 290 kilometres off the coast of Namibia, on the edge of Namibia’s Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ).

"Aggregations of tuna are known to occur near Tripp Seamount, approximately 120 km east of Block 2912. No tuna pole activity has been recorded in the block, with minimal effort expended in the adjacent Block 2913B," SLR Consulting said.

Demersal trawling being conducted in Namibia was likely not to be affected, the company said.

"This fishery operates between depths of 200 m and 850 m. The demersal trawl grounds are situated 125 km eastward of the block. There is thus no overlap," SLR Consulting said.

"Mid-water trawl fishing occurs mainly between the 200 m and 500 m isobaths towards the shelf break. Although the main commercial fishing grounds are situated approximately 400 km northward of the licence block, incidental fishing has been recorded 200 km north-east of the block. There is thus no overlap," it added.

Local activities

Deep-water trawling would also not be affected as the fishery is currently closed, SLR Consulting said.

Small pelagic fishing activity was mostly localised, with minimal impact expected.

"Fishing activity is localised around ports and inshore of the 200 m isobaths.

"The fishing grounds targeted by the purse-seine fleet are largely located off and to the north of Walvis Bay," the company said.

"The main commercial fishing grounds are situated at least 480 km northward of the licence block, and the closest fishing activity recorded 150 km east of Block 2912 is incidental. There is thus no overlap," it added.

Far away

Demersal long-lining would also likely not be affected as it was located at least 100 km from the licence block explored.

"Demersal long-lining is expected to occur in similar areas used by the hake-directed trawling. Fishing grounds are situated 100 km eastward of Block 2912 and there is no overlap. Traditional line-fishing is limited in extent to around the Port of Walvis Bay and does not operate much further than 12 nautical miles offshore due to the operational range of vessels operating within this fishery, which is inshore and 300 km north-east of Block 2912 in the vicinity of Lüderitz," SLR Consulting noted.

As for deep-sea crab, fishing grounds are located at least 780 km to the north of Block 2912, and there is thus no overlap, the company found.