22 August 2013
Shale gas exploration cannot go ahead, says Alliance
The Alliance against fracking in South Africa, AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), stresses that shale gas exploration cannot proceed, following a statement by Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, that Government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year’s elections.
The Alliance is most disappointed by Government’s stance on shale gas exploration. “Firstly, we believe that such a decision will have an impact which will endure far beyond the election cycle of the Government. This decision cannot be rushed through before next year’s election. It will be completely irresponsible,” says Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of TKAG.
“Secondly, Minister Shabangu has promised on various occasions to consult with the public of this country prior to making any decision on shale gas mining. This has not happened, and the people of South Africa – at all levels – are entitled to be heard on an issue of this magnitude.”
“We are informed that Government has thus far relied largely on research commissioned by the Department of Minerals – which, in our considered view is singularly inadequate, considering the multidisciplinary nature of mining activity.”
The environmental issues, of which water is only one, are complex and varied, and the laws of South Africa are wholly inadequate to control an industry with a severely tarnished reputation and the process of fracking, the Alliance believes.
“Government is selling votes with this move, but it is an empty promise. Even if Government issues the licences, exploration cannot legally proceed. We will not allow our constitutional rights to be breached; the Alliance will appeal against Government. These court cases will take a long time,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
“AfriForum and TKAG are most certainly pro-development, but we cannot endorse a hasty and ill-considered choice that may compromise the prosperity of current and future generations”
“Recent evidence from the United States of America indicated that fracking may contaminate drinking water. A study from Duke University analysed 141 drinking water samples across a gas-rich shale basin in north-eastern Pennsylvania.”
“They found that methane concentrations were 6 times higher, ethane concentrations were 23 times higher and propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometre of the drilling sites.”
Two previous studies by Duke scientists found direct evidence of methane contamination in water wells near shale-gas drilling sites in north-eastern Pennsylvania. “We do not want this to occur in South Africa, especially not in the sensitive Karoo. South Africa is an arid country and must be treated as such,” said Kleynhans
Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has led to a massive expansion of natural gas production in the United States but has been banned in other countries such as France due to environmental concerns.
“The gas is extracted after cracking open hydrocarbon-rich shale by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the deep wells at high pressure Environmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air,” added Kleynhans.
To become a member of AfriForum and support this issue, SMS “Karoo” to 31336. 50c/SMS.
Head: Environmental Affairs
Cell: 082 829 9182
Treasure the Karoo Action Group
Cell: 076 838 5150
Head: Media Liaison
Cell: 072 332 9824
THE PRESS STATEMENT THAT STARTED IT ALL
Story ID 3740528
Government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year’s elections, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.
“We want to move before the end of this administration,” Davies said at a briefing on Thursday, following Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting.
“We need to advance the work on taking a decision on shale gas exploration.”
Davies said Cabinet believed shale gas could be a vital component in South Africa’s quest for energy security, but at this stage the potential extent of local reserves remained unknown.
“Mossgas has a resource of about one trillion cubic metres of gas. The gas fields of Mozambique which have just opened have about a hundred trillion cubic metres of gas, and the shale gas deposit — some of the estimates would suggest that it is multiples of the Mozambican,” he said.
“If this was the case, this could be a very, very significant game changer in terms of the energy situation in South Africa.”
Asked about the Karoo’s vociferous anti-fracking lobby, Davies replied that government would proceed with exploration in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“Of course we are not going to do this in any kind of irresponsible way,” he said.
“We obviously have to bear in mind all the environmental implications including, of course, the nature of the relationships with any company that gets any kind of permit — what is going to be the delivery in terms of any positive impact on the economy.”
Davies said the decision on fracking was part of a range of steps agreed by Cabinet to stimulate investment and job creation in the face of fears that a downturn in commodity prices would hamper economic growth.
An integral part of this was to improve the electricity demand and supply balance because it was “a constraint to growth that requires immediate attention”.
On Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told Parliament scientists had advised government that it should seriously consider allowing fracking for shale gas because it could change the course of the economy.