Our Burning Planet


Three Karpowership EIA applications refused, withdrawn or suspended halting company’s gas-to-electricity plans in SA

Three Karpowership EIA applications refused, withdrawn or suspended halting company’s gas-to-electricity plans in SA
Illustrative image | (Source: Karpowership.) (Image: Supplied) | Rawpixel | iStock

The Turkish-owned Karpowership fleet has been ‘struck’ by three potentially devastating ‘torpedo explosions’ after officials in Barbara Creecy’s national Department of Environmental Affairs suspended the approvals process or refused to authorise all three of the company’s gas-to-electricity proposals.

Now, short of urgent court appeals or political interventions to sweep environmental laws aside under cover of the new State of Disaster electricity regulations, the controversial Turkish plan may be dead in the water.

The plan, estimated to have a price tag of around R220-billion, involves mooring up to nine Karpowership vessels in three local harbours (Richards Bay, Coega and Saldanha Bay) for the next two decades to provide “emergency power” supplies amid the national power supply collapse.

Creecy’s department confirmed late on Friday, 10 March that:

  • the Coega harbour application has been refused in its entirety.
  • the Richards Bay harbour application has been withdrawn for now by Karpowership’s environmental consultants (though Creecy’s department regards the application as “closed”.)
  • the Saldanha Bay application has been suspended after complaints that Karpowership environmental consultants submitted “misleading” information to Creecy’s department in its attempt to gain approval.

In a written statement, Creecy’s department said: “All information relevant to each of the (three) applications was thoroughly assessed in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.”

Karadeniz Powership Osman Khan. (Photo: Wikipedia)

No response

Neither Karpowership nor Minister Gwede Mantashe’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy have responded to the latest bombshell announcement.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment noted that Minister Creecy had remitted all three projects back to the “competent authority” in August so that the “various gaps in the information and procedural defects in relation to the public participation process” could be reconsidered and re-adjudicated.

Karpowership had resubmitted all three EIA applications on 9 January for decision-making.

The decision to grant three electricity licences to the Karpowership SA subsidiary company was confirmed by Nersa. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Withdrawal details

However, Karpowership’s environmental consultant Hantie Plomp had written to the department on 2 March, asking that the revised Richards Bay EIA report be withdrawn for now.

“The withdrawal is based on an urgent application by the (consultant) for condonation to comply with regulatory timeframes in terms of Section 47C of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) submitted to Minister Creecy on 24 February, 2023.” 


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Regarding the Saldanha application, the environment department had received a formal complaint from the Green Connection environmental group “alleging suspected non-compliance” with EIA Regulations.

“As a result, the application has been suspended by the competent authority so that the veracity of the allegations can be probed. Letters have been issued to the environmental assessment practitioner for Karpowership-SA and to The Green Connection. The decision on this application will be based on the outcome of the investigation.”

Significantly, the environmental authorisation for Coega was “refused” in its entirety on 7 March.

The full reasons for refusing the Coega application are here. DM/OBP

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Isis Limor says:

    Likely too costly, too damaging and too long term. 2 decades essentially means the government has admitted total defeat with no hope of fixing it themselves.

  • Average Joe says:


  • Louise van Dyk says:

    A big thank you to every single person involved in achieving these decisions. I hope the Minister of Energy and Mineral Affairs now rest his case.

  • Johan Buys says:

    the EIA processes are a hurdle.
    The court challenges to economic rationality of 20y contracts with court-adjudicated corrupt vendors will make the EIA look like a speed bump.

    Fair notice : ANYBODY that backs the gas power ships is subject to losing their entire financial exposure by 2025. You back this you go down with it eyes wide open.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    Brilliant news of course. At least one government department seems to be keeping its eye on the ball, and is aware of its mandate and responsibilities. It would be great if this was contagious :)!

  • Leon Schipper says:

    Replying to John Buys’s comment (but “Reply” link not working): Unfortunately it is we, the SA taxpayer, whose investment is at stake here.

  • Peter Atkins says:

    Good! I hope the idea of long term Karpower ships goes away and stays away. They are meant for short term emergency power, not 20 year power purchase agreements.

  • Dee Bee says:

    Fantastic news! I’m certainly not opposed to gas as a power source, but a 20 year ’emergency’ contract? Corrupt as the day is long!

  • William Kelly says:

    Doesn’t matter how they get stopped, as long as they get stopped. A total black hole from the very start, made no sense until viewed through the lens of corruption.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    At least one minister who takes her job serious. The gas power ship project is one reason why Mantashe wants to muzzle the press. I wish that all South Africans see him for what he is. A little man with a HUGE inferiority complex.

  • kvlok says:

    A 900 MW Siemens (similar to what we have) will cost about R 10 billion (sounds like a lot to me). Why not get going with these shore-based stationary plants that will be owned? We have the capability to run them.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Hang tough guys, and get yourselves some body guards! What a pleasure to read this article. Hope the decisions are not overturned, but let’s not hold our collective breath…….

  • Sam Shu says:

    Well, as devastating as the daily grind of corruption and incompetence is, every now and then we get a ray of sunshine. Who knows the “real” reasons Barbara Creecy and her department did the right thing, we’ll take it.

  • John Strydom says:


  • Rencia Cloete says:

    Thank goodness! Thanks to all who saw this through, restores some faith in the world that some people in our government did the right thing. Salutations for courage and honesty and refusing bribes no doubt.
    Watch you backs!
    We, the people, need you

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Why has the exaggerated length, of twenty years, never been discussed officially?

  • Alastair Stalker says:

    Mantashe won’t take this lying down. He won’t want to see his pension disappearing. I’d be willing to bet that under the “State of Disaster ” regulations this will be pushed through.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Can these things go back to where they came from? they are not the solution but the creator of bigger problems for future generations.

  • Rory Short says:

    We shouldn’t even be thinking of Karpower ships when we have an abundance of sun light.

  • srp.chatter says:

    What I don’t understand, is that there is so much talk about renewable energy not able to feed the grid, due to the inability of the “grid” to send power to the main centres, where it is needed.
    There is “plenty” of coastal energy, but that cannot reach the inland destinations. So how will these ships, manage to send the electricity to the parts of SA, where it is really needed?

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