22 African countries recommit to working together against oil spills; Cape Town.

GI-WACAF CONFERENCE 2019 WRAP UP

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Deliberations on the last day of the GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town on Thursday.

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.

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Mr Brian Sullivan, Executive Director; IPIECA

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.

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Some of the delegates that attended the 8th GI-WACAF Conference in Cape Town a week ago

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.

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Delegates to the 8th GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town from Monday to Thursday last week being taken through a demonstration of an oil spill containment and management.

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.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois (seated second from Left), an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) taking notes during during a session of the GI-WACAF conference 2019 in Cape Town from Monday, 28 October to Thursday, 31 October.

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.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois. Deputy Director, International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

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.

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South Africa’s maritime risks come under scrutiny in Durban this week: SAMSA

20170419_101108Durban: 26 March 2019

The safety of oceans around South Africa along with the country’s level of preparedness for maritime risks come under the spotlight at a two-day sector workshop in Durban this week.

Organized by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the two-day workshop on Wednesday and Thursday is scheduled to explore a variety of maritime risks issues ranging from an overview of the country’s maritime risk profile involving case studies, the country’s legislative framework and institutional responsibilities, third parties dependencies, to maritime domain awareness, pollution monitoring and combating, the country’s response capability as well as funding.

As many as 20 participants inclusive of experts in specialized fields of the maritime time sector drawn from industry as well as SAMSA, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are lined up for contribution and discussions over the two days.

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A tug under construction at a sea site in Durban in 2017. (SAMSA File Photo)

The event comes at a time when ship traffic volumes are reportedly on a steady increase around South Africa over the last few years leading to economic opportunities that include the recent establishment of a bunkering services in Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa’s nine commercial ports and reputably the most secure for the service.

There is also a notable increase in oil and gas exploration and related activities in the country’s oceans opening to unique opportunities and risks that the country must prepare for.

SAMSA, a State owned entity established 20 years ago and operating under the guidance of Department of Transport, is the country’s dedicated authority responsible for ensuring the safety of property and people at sea, the combating of pollution of the oceans’ environment by sea traffic as well as promoting South Africa’s maritime interests domestically and globally.

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(SAMSA File Photo)

Among processes involved in monitoring activity across the three oceans surrounding South Africa, SAMSA operates a Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) based in Cape Town. SAMSA’s CSWR is responsible for carrying out search and rescue functions over a 27-million km² oceans area abutting the country’s 1 300km coastline, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Southern Oceans in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east.

SAMSA’s CSWR is also charged with implementing systems for surveillance of the maritime domain, inclusive of vessels safety, vessel security, oil pollution prevention, detection and combating, maintenance of the maritime domain awareness as well as monitoring coastal and offshore maritime activities.

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An artist’s impression of the new facilities to be developed for the oil & gas subsector at the port of Saldanha

Tools in place include terrestrial and satellite automatic identification systems involving both long range identification, tracking and monitoring of ships and other vessels within South African territorial waters (a 200 nautical miles area within the country’s exclusive economic zone) and beyond, in order to maintain safety and security to navigation threats, marine environmental threats and assistance with search and rescue.

In pursuing these activities, SAMSA’s CSWR collaborates with a range of entities both in the private and public sectors inclusive of the South African National Defense Force, the SA Navy, the State Security Agency, the Department of Transport, Border Management Agency and others.

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The Cargo Bridge – an old vessel whose interior has been converted into a quaint restaurant is one of Durban’s landmarks venues and which recently hosted delegates to IMO Djibouti Code of Conduct Three Day Workshop in the city in November 2018.

In Durban on Wednesday, the two days workshop’s programme on South African maritime risks is scheduled to kickoff at 9am with an outline and analysis of the country’s maritime risk profile by Mr Brian Blackbeard of the Atlantis Consulting group and involving a feasibility study on of the country’s emergency towing vessels.

He will be followed by SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi’s overview of the weather incident that rocked the Durban port a year ago and during which extensive damage to ships as well as pollution ensued.

Next in line with a review of current legislation related to maritime risks by Captain Gustav Louw (SAMSA) and exploration of vulnerabilities of the South African Maritime Risk System) by Messrs Mike Heads and Nick Sloane.

In the discussion on third party dependencies, Mr Andrew Pike and Mr Dave Main are scheduled to share insights gleaned during the incident of the sinking in 1991 of the Oceanos, a French-built and Greek-owned cruise ship due reportedly to uncontrolled flooding while sailing off the Wild Coast (Indian Ocean), as well as a look at costs of maritime risks management involving the exposure of the State to uninsured rogue ships transiting South Africa’s coasts.

The rest of the discussions involving Messrs Lauren Williams, Captain Theo Oakes, Dr Stander, Gavin Fitzmaurice, Terence Mabuela and Captain Ravi Naicker will look at maritime domain awareness issues including oceans and coastal management information management systems capabilities and usage, South Africa’s weather services capabilities, completeness and key challenges relating to provision of services in the maritime sector.

They will also discuss the country’s hydrography in relation to current incidents and the country’s maritime risk profile. They will also share insights into hindrances to successful maritime prosecutions, incident management organization as well as existing capabilities related to sea watch and rescue.

This SAMSA blog will carry updates on the discussions over the next few days.

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