OK ENERGY, the company that intends exploring for gas and oil off the coast between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay, has moved to allay fears about the project.
This comes after a petition drawn up by Knysna businessman and surfer Ivan Keir held the process up, with the Petroleum Association of SA (Pasa) calling for further investigation.
Pasa approved OK Energy's exploration application in March, but Keir argued that the public participation process was flawed and that studies conducted on the effect of gas exploration on marine life were not comprehensive.
His petition was signed by 700 residents.
However, OK Energy managing director Dr Erika Syba maintains that due process was followed, and that the company had addressed all environmental concerns.
"We are committed to minimise impacts and have instigated a self-imposed 10km exclusion zone for seismic shooting which will avoid any interaction with inshore marine users," Syba said yesterday.
"With respect to fishing interests, we have engaged with the main fisheries and will aim to ensure we do not impinge on their activities. In terms of cetaceans, there are industry standard mitigating procedures in place to protect these animals which we will adhere to."
The company would also be using "highly respected" seismic contractors, who had experience around the world in acquiring seismic data in similar environments.
Keir argues that even though the company had placed advertisements detailing its intentions in the national press, Garden Route residents, who often read community newspapers, were not even aware of the project.
Syba countered by saying that OK Energy had in fact gone beyond what was stipulated by the regulations.