GI-WACAF CONFERENCE 2019 WRAP UP
Cape Town: 03 November 2019
Oil spills in the world’s oceans remain a dreaded possibility at all times whether through human handling or natural disasters, and preparedness for such eventuality by both industry and governments in concert are the key prerequisites for successful prevention or effective, and efficient management of such spills when they occur.
It was for that reason that, according to Mr Brian Sullivan, executive director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), regional collaboration, cooperation and teamwork between and among countries with coastal access was absolutely critical to oil spills combating anywhere at seas across the world.
This, he told about 100 delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the last day of their four day conference in Cape Town on Thursday, under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.
Mr Sullivan’s organisation, IPIECA, established in 1974 with the encouragement of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now with about 65 member companies and organisations, describes itself as ‘the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance..and convenes a significant portion of the oil and gas industry across the value chain, bringing together the expertise of oil and gas companies and associations to develop, share and promote good practice and knowledge.”
IPIECA further describes itself as the oil and gas industry’s ‘principal channel of engagement with the United Nations,’ a position it says enables its members to ‘support the energy transition and contribute to sustainable development.’
IPIECA member companies include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Woodside and dozens others.
GI-WACAF on the other hand, launched in 2006, is a regional organisation of 22 African countries on the south, central and north Atlantic Ocean east coast, and was established to promote and encourage close collaboration between governments and industry to enhance oil spills preparedness, response and cooperation.
The GI-WACAF member countries, among them South Africa, comprise countries among which are signatories to no less than three conventions, such as the Abuja and Benguela Current Conventions – and all of which collaboration and cooperation instruments aspire to similar goals as the GI-WACAF.
For all of last week, bar Friday, delegates from the 22 African countries spent considerable time, both in conference at a hotel in Newlands as well as at an oil spill management demonstration site at a lagoon near Cape Town, deliberating over a variety of issues all aimed at strengthening their national systems for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill anywhere in their region.
The intended outcome, according to the IMO and IPIECA, both which directed proceedings of the gathering, would be a further two year agreement on an action plan of defined activities in the period.
Split in two groups by language – French and English speaking country groups – during working groups sessions, such a list of actions proposed to form the two year agreement emerged on Thursday, and would be consolidated and shared among represented countries by the GI-WACAF secretariat in due course.
The issues ranged from legislation, cross boundary co-operation to shoreline waste management and quite a few others.
In closing remarks, Mr Sullivan applauded the participating countries’ demonstrated commitment to the GI-WACAF Project, describing it as encouraging that governments and industry in the region, showed willingness and determination to work closely together in preserving the oceans environment integrity through prevention and combating of oil pollution.
He further noted that the compulsory implementation of lower sulphur oil for ships fuel in January 2020 by the IMO would present its own challenges to shipping and oil industries in general, but expressed confidence that through the established and sustained healthy cooperation and collaboration between industry and governments, the challenges would be overcome.
Both IPIECA and the IMO, the latter through its deputy director, Ms Patricia Charlebois, also expressed gratitude to South Africa, precisely the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for assistance with the conference.
For both Mr Sullivan and Ms Charlebos’s full closing remarks, Click on the respective videos below.
Meanwhile, in an effort to gain further insight into the IMO and IPIECA driven GI-WACAF Project – one of three across the globe – as well as glean an understanding of its significance to South Africa in particular, this blog charted to SAMSA’s key representative at the conference, Captain Ravi Naicker, For the interview, click on the video below and for his presentation to the conference, the next video.
Supplementary to the above, this blog further obtained a series of interviews with both IMO and various other delegates that attended. These will be uploaded as soon as processed.