‘It is exactly this type of untruthful statement…

November 8, Howick, Kwa-Zulu-Natal. 2013 Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice.

Nigel Rossouw, Shell, SA, Upstream talking on Shell’s water requirements for fracking exploration and later, production.

Shell SA is able to draw water once off, use, it, recycle it and use it for the next gas well. This according to Shell SA Upstream Project Manager, Nigel Rossouw. Rossouw was representing the oil and gas giant and claimed that the company could draw water once and use that same water for following wells.

Read this verbatim quote from Shell Environmental Planner – Nigel Rossouw

One of the things to remember, also, is that we estimate, understanding …, just using available data, that we estimate that we use in the region of 1000 to 2000 cubic metres of water, per gas well, OK, that’s for exploration, that figure, increases to about 10 000 cubic metres when we’re in full production, the other thing to remember is that we don’t need a constant source of water, uh, for the, for the exploration and production, we recycle and treat this water and re-use it for the, for the next gas well, so there isn’t this constant supply of water, constant demand that we, that we need for, for water, we need water kinda almost once off and we use it, treat it, recycle it and use it all the time for the next uh gas well.

In plain language Shell claim that they draw water once, use it, recycle it, treat it and use it for the next gas well, and so ‘there isn’t this constant demand for water.’

For this to be true, Shell would recover all of the injected water, treat all of it and start the next well with the same water, and again, and again.

Clearly, this is impossible. It calls to mind the deliberate untruths told by Shell SA Chairman to the public that Shell is so good at recycling fracking fluid that they can recycle 95% of the water and that when they are finished it is so clean that communities can use it to wash streets and water golf courses.
In conclusion: What are we dealing with?
(a) A senior Shell manager who is briefed to address a critically important group of people and who simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about?
(b) A deliberate untruth to make the water issue appear as a non-issue?
(c) None of the above. (watch this space for the official corporate spin)
It is exactly this type of untruthful statement*, in public, to the public addressing a very serious issue about I which have complained numerous times. TKAG regards Shell, and Shell’s misinformation to South Africans*, including the leaders of this country, as being responsible for the euphoria about the ‘game-changing’ shale gas. This while international bans in significant jurisdictions mount on a daily basis.

The industry too, has developed a new habit of referring to water in 1000’s of cubic metres. So of course 1 or 2 thousand cubic metres sounds much less than 1 or 2 million. Cubic metres mean very little to the man in the street – imagine going into the grocery store and asking for one 1 thousandth of a cubic metre of milk. Or pulling into any filling station and asking the pump attendant for 90 thousandths of a cubic metre of diesel?

Apart from this, the figure of ten thousand cubic metres of water in a production well is well on the side of optimistic. Wells in Marcellus, which are shallower than those expected in the Karoo routinely use between 5 and 7 million GALLONS of water or about 20 to 24 MILLION litres.

*Voice recording of the statement available on request from

*TKAG requested a national debate with Shell in any public forum, at Shell’s convenience.

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