Understanding the Enforcement of Environmental Provisions of Petroleum Act, 2012 and Why Environmental Ruin Continues
Author: Nhial Tiitmamer
Organization: The Sudd Institute
Type: Policy Briefs
When the South Sudanese Petroleum Act was enacted in 2012, a flicker of hope of a better environmental management was felt after many years of environmental degradation due to negligence by the government in Khartoum. However, since the Act was passed three years ago, environmental ruin has continued. So what explains the continued social and environmental impacts of oil production in South Sudan? This paper, therefore, evaluates the extent to which the environmental provisions of the Act have been enforced, and attempts to identify the gaps and challenges facing the implementation. To determine the level of enforcement, we conducted structured interviews with key officials from the ministries of Environment and Petroleum and Mining and Nile Petroleum Corporation.
We found that environmental provisions in the Act have not been implemented as expected, no wonder that environmental degradation has continued. Only 23% of environmental standards, which have no reference to the Petroleum Act 2012, have been enforced and most of this enforcement happened before the Act was passed. Some of the factors and challenges cited as responsible for lack of implementation include the shutdown of oil operations in 2012, ongoing civil war, delay in the enactment of overall national environmental law and in establishment of an independent and technical environmental body, nonexistence of political will and lack of environmental awareness, among others. Some of the gaps identified include lack of provisions on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA), Environmental Management System (EMS) and detailed processes on principles and triggers for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
We recommend to the government and petroleum companies to (1) submit and publish past EIA, CEBS, Audit and SEA reports, (2) carry out a comprehensive social and environmental audit on the existing petroleum activities and rehabilitate the damaged environment and compensate the affected people as required by the Act, (3) speed up the finalization of the national environmental bill, create an independent and technical environmental regulatory body and give it the full responsibility to supervise, monitor and regulate environmental matters in the petroleum industry, (4) prioritize and enact regulations on EIA, SIA, climate change and emissions control, petroleum waste management, pollution damage fund, contingency fund, oil wells decommissioning plan and fund, greenhouse gases, and clean technology specifications for the industry, (5) consider amendment of the Act to include provisions on EMS, greenhouse gases limit, greenhouse gases reporting requirements, CEA and framework on clean technology specifications for the petroleum industry to reduce the industry’s negative impacts and enhance its performance, and (6) accelerate the implementation of EMS and EMP as provided in the Act and recent regulation on EMS and EMP.
Nhial Tiitmamer is Programme Manager for environmental, energy and natural resources research and as well the Institute’s Focal Point on Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED), a climate change resilience programme being implemented in South Sudan by a consortium composed of The Sudd Institute and five international organizations. Nhial holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary in Canada where he spent stints as an environmental consultant and research associate in environmental studies. Nhial is the co-founder of the NewSudanVision.com and has extensively commented and written on issues about South Sudan.