South Sudan has announced a tender for a comprehensive environmental audit of all the country’s producing oilfields before any new exploration and drilling.
The audit is in line with the Petroleum Act of 2012, enacted a year after Independence, and which governs the oil sector in the country. The Act is designed to promote better management of the environmental impact of the sector after years of neglect, and the resulting pollution.
An international independent organisation will be appointed to conduct the audit, and will be mandated to suggest best practices for new exploration as well as ways to repair the historical damage brought on by oil exploration.
Minister of Petroleum Awow Daniel Chuang said 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 last August in Juba, President Salva Kiir said that the 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.
“I will not tolerate irresponsible activities in the oil sector,” the president said.
The country’s cycle of civil war also prevented the proper management based on environmentally, socially and economically sustainable principles.
South Sudan is now faced with the challenge of balancing developmental needs with environmental protection as 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.
Tender prequalification documents can be obtained at the Ministry of Petroleum’s headquarters in Juba, and from its website. The documentation will be available between January 13 and 20.