Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 20 January 2016 – Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Rhino Oil and Gas) has lodged an application for an exploration right to the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA) in terms of section 79 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002. In addition Rhino Oil and Gas has made an application to PASA for environmental authorisation of exploration activities as set out in the Listing Notices promulgated in terms of Section 24(5) of the National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA).

The proposed exploration area includes nearly 10 000 farms over an area of about 1 500 000 ha. In broad terms the exploration area extends from Richmond in the south to Ladysmith and Dundee in the north-west, passing just eastwards of Mooi River and Estcourt. In the north the area extends east almost to Ulundi and includes the regions around Tugela Ferry and Nkandla. The extent of the area narrows toward the south, including Kranskop, New Hanover and Ashburton but being bounded just west of Camperdown. Protected areas and residential properties within the block are excluded from the rights application. A map and list of included farms are available at ftp.slrconsulting.co.za username: 723.18034.00004 password: hy578ht4.

In this application Rhino Oil and Gas has only applied for approval to undertake early-phase exploration for oil and gas which might be located within suitable geological strata. The purpose of the work would be solely to determine the presence of any possible petroleum resource which could be investigated further. The initial 3-year exploration work programme will be restricted to non-invasive techniques, as well as seismic surveys and the drilling of less than 10 core boreholes. No hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is proposed in the 3-year programme. Rhino will require access to only a few farms for exploration activities and will agree terms with those land owners. These locations can only be determined once the data from the initial work has been interpreted.

SLR Consulting (Pty) Ltd is appointed as the independent environmental assessment practitioner and is undertaking the required environmental assessment and public participation process. Public participation commenced in October 2015 and included a series of public meeting held in November 2015. The public response was overwhelming and very much opposed to the exploration right application. The response has necessitated that further public interaction and investigation be undertaken to augment the EIA process. The EIA Regulations provide a fixed time period for the scoping process and a time extension was required for the additional work. On application to PASA such extension of time was granted.

The following repeat public scoping meetings have been arranged in larger venues. All stakeholders are invited to attend:

Tuesday 2 February 2016, Howick West Community Hall, 2:30pm;
Wednesday 3 February 2016, Mooi River Town Hall, 10 Claughton Terrace, 2:30pm;
Thursday 4 February 2016, Greytown Community Hall, 61 Cathcart Street, 2:30pm.

Stakeholders are also invited to register as Interested & Affected Parties (IAP). You must be a registered I&AP if you would like more information or wish to participate in the environmental assessment of the project. If you have previously contacted SLR then you will already be registered and do not need to register again. To register, or to raise any environmental issues or concerns regarding the project, please contact:

Matthew Hemming (Project Manager) and/or Stella Moeketse (Public Participation) by
Email: mhemming@slrconsulting.com and/or smoeketse@slrconsulting.com
Tel: 011 467 0945, Fax:  011 467 0975 and/ or Post: PO Box 1596, Cramerview, 2060