WEST AFRICA: GTA gas project threatens climate and biodiversity
British Petroleum (BP) is developing one of the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the Gulf of Guinea. Located on the maritime border between Senegal and Mauritania, the gas concession called Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) is 2.7 km below the surface, a depth never before attempted in Africa. Once operational, the GTA platform will produce 2.5 million tonnes of LNG per year, with total gas resources in the field estimated at around 15,000 billion cubic feet. The gas produced is intended for export, but also for the domestic market in Senegal and Mauritania, in particular for the production of electricity. In addition, BP plans to launch drilling programs for two wells in Ghana and three wells in Equatorial Guinea this year.
However, some conservation groups fear the worst for BP’s gas projects in the Gulf of Guinea. “If these new projects come to fruition, BP is expected to recover around 40,000 billion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in the region. And when burned, this gas would create around 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 0.3 to 1% of the carbon budget remaining to keep warming below 1.5 ° C ”, reveals a recent investigation by Unearthed, an investigative journalism program launched by Greenpeace and SourceMaterial.
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A threat to biodiversity
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also point out the impact of the GTA gas project on marine biodiversity. The gas will be exploited at the edge of a marine ecosystem 100 meters high and 580 kilometers long. Scientists estimate that this ecosystem took about 200,000 years to form. It is an important habitat for various species, such as whales, turtles, endangered sharks and migratory birds seeking rest. Scientists believe it is the largest known cold-water coral reef in the world.
According to the project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), a condensate spill from a well blowout could affect marine areas in eight or nine countries. But without being clear on preventive measures, BP told Unearthed that their emergency and emergency spill response plans would be activated in the event of such an event.