Understanding the Enforcement of Environmental Provisions of Petroleum Act, 2012 and Why Environmental Ruin Continues

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Nhial Tiitmamer
The Sudd Institute
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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).
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