Shell SA Spokesperson Dineo Pooe claims permanent and sustainable jobs

What, exactly is permanent and sustainable about fossil fuels? This is an untruth Shell, and like your other untruths it will come back to confront you in 2014.

IT WILL take three to five years to complete an environmental assessment before fracking in the Karoo can go ahead. There will be great financial cost and the industry will not live up to the expected job creation predictions. This is the view of the CEO of the Treasure Karoo Action Group,Jonathan Deal.

The yellow area indicates where Shell has applied for rights to explore for natural gas in the Karoo, which along with applications by other companies (blue and red) surrounds the city of Graaff-Reinet. The pink and orange areas represent applications for technical cooperation permits. Once these have been granted, companies may conduct desktop studies and surveys across the area. Only if these findings show potential for shale gas, may companies apply for exploration rights.Deal, who is a winner of environmentalist award the Goldman prize, told The New Age that although a notice of intention to declare fracking a controlled activity was signed off by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, for public comment, the granting of water licences is not a green light for fracking to commence.

Deal said: “The biggest issue is doing an environmental impact assessment which needs to be done over a cycle of seasons.”

“The costs of doing baseline studies to determine the water quality beforefracking amounts to about R50 000 per borehole. Keep in mind that the average Karoo farm has a dozen boreholes which could be affected and would therefore need to be tested.”

Shell South Africa spokesperson Dineo Pooe said the hydraulic fracturing process used to produce shale gas does need water and that considering the dry Karoo landscape, in addition to using the latest recycling technologies, Shell would reduce the amount of fresh water it would need by avoiding shallow ground water altogether and increasingly use alternative water sources such as brackish water.

“During the initial exploration period, we may look to import water by rail or truck from other locations and also to dedicated water wells to access deep formation brackish water..”

Deal said even the smallest threat of water contamination was of huge concern as residents relied on ground water for drinking. In terms of economic growth and employment for the region, he said the jobs expected to be created by fracking would not materialise in the expected form or numbers.

Referring to a research study conducted on the benefits of shale gas in South Africa by Econometrix, on behalf of Shell South Africa, Pooe said: “Successful exploration of shale gas in the Karoo could deliver permanent and sustainable jobs, increased government revenues and boost South Africa’s GDP.”

She said the Econometrix model indicated that for the two scenarios of shale gas production of 20 trillion cubic feet and 50 trillion cubic feet in the Karoo basin, there would be an economic impact of more than R80bn and R200bn to GDP, an average annual government revenue of around R35bn to R90bn and between 300 000 and 700 000 permanent jobs for a period of 25 years.

Deal said the Econometrix model was flawed as it ignored secondary costs to existing workers and made no effort to quantify the cost of damage to roads and town infrastructure or to health costs, remediation of pollution and the large agency that would need to be trained and equipped with equipment to monitor and enforce standards.

“When companies like Shell develop and train a team, they would take that team and move on to the next area when fracking is completed. They don’t employ and train a new team for every location.

The rural residents of the Karoo are not going to be in line for trucking jobs and rig operators.

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