Reuters curious about TKAG legal purse


S.African anti-fracking group threatens legal challenge

Source: Reuters – Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:50 GMT

Author: Reuters
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By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG, July 22 (Reuters) – A South African anti-fracking group threatened a legal challenge on Tuesday to government plans to grant shale gas exploration licences in the pristine semi-desert of the Karoo, saying the regulatory process had been marked by “patent ineptitude”.

In a February State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma described shale gas as a “game changer” for the economy and said Pretoria would allow hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, “within the framework of our good environmental laws”.

The government had been expected to publish regulations overseeing shale exploration before an election in May this year although there is still no sign of the rules.

Fracking involves digging wells up to 4 km deep and pumping in large amounts of water and chemicals under high pressure to crack the shale rock and release the gas. In a dry region such as the Karoo, in the middle of the country, any change in water use causes concern.

Green groups wanting to protect the Karoo, believed to hold significant shale gas deposits, said Pretoria was incapable of ensuring firms such as Royal Dutch Shell, at the forefront of the fracking push, would adhere to the rules.

They accused the energy companies of already drawing up slip-shod environmental plans and failing to consult communities and landowners, violating fundamental property rights.

“The environmental management plans are fatally flawed,” Jonathan Deal, head of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), told a news conference.

“The state is not ready to manage either exploration or production.”

If the government failed to heed TKAG’s call for a moratorium on exploration licences within 30 days, the group would seek a pre-emptive injunction blocking them and was prepared to go to the Constitutional Court, he added.

Deal declined to reveal TKAG’s backers although Cartier billionaire Johann Rupert, South Africa’s richest man and a major Karoo landowner, told Reuters last year he was prepared to fund a challenge as far as necessary.

The Department of Mineral Resources did not comment. Shell said it was committed to following government regulations and listening to the views of Karoo residents.

The first formal interest in shale gas in the Karoo began in 2008, with an application for exploration rights by Bundu Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Australia’s Challenger Energy.

The issue hit the headlines three years later, when Shell applied for an exploration licence covering more than 95,000 square km, almost a quarter of the Karoo. An outcry from farmers led to a moratorium on the granting of licences.

The basis for Shell’s pro-fracking argument is a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) assessment of 390 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves, about two-thirds of deposits estimated in the United States.

Such quantities, if realised, could have a huge impact on an economy that has always been a big oil and gas importer. However, Deal cited other studies that estimated reserves at less than 10 percent of the EIA assessment. (Reporting by Ed Cropley, editing by David Evans)

 

Anti-fracking lobby seeks new moratorium, keeps legal powder dry


http://bit.ly/1wYGYb4

Anti-fracking lobby seeks new moratorium, keeps legal powder dry

22nd July 2014

Anti-fracking lobby group Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and social rights group AfriForum hand delivered a letter to President Jacob Zuma this week calling on him to declare a fresh moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in South Africa, or face possible legal action.

TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal reported on Tuesday that the letter questioned government’s apparent willingness to proceed with the processing of exploration applications despite having failed to address several outstanding concerns that had been raised by fracking opponents over the past three-and-a-half years.

In his State of the Nation address on June 17, Zuma described shale energy as a “game changer” and said that the “the shale-gas option” would be pursued “within the framework of our good environmental laws”.

Subsequently, Shell’s Bonang Mohale urged government to accelerate the licensing process, warning that South Africa ran the risk of missing out on the shale-gas boom as it had with the commodity boom.

Untested estimates indicated that South Africa could have more than 300-trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the Karoo basin, which proponents believe should be exploited to help the country diversify its coal-heavy electricity mix and even, potentially, to produce transport fuels.

However, Deal said the alliance against fracking – which was led by TKAG and AfriForum, but also embraced civil society, labour and religious groups – felt there were at least five outstanding issues that had to be address before South Africa could consider proceeding.

The first, and most important, related to public consultation, which AfriForum’s head of environmental affairs Julius Kleynhans argued had been entirely inadequate to date.

However, the draft fracking regulations outlined in 2013 were also said to be “flawed”, with no indication yet given as to whether the final regulations would take account of public submissions – the alliance against fracking’s own submission ran to over 300 pages.

Thirdly, concerns lingered over the composition of the task team assembled by the Department of Mineral Resources to finalise the framework under which shale-gas exploration and development could proceed. Deal argued that a new task team should be assembled that included individuals who were more critical of fracking and its potential benefits.

Opponents also had serious misgivings about the quality of the environmental management plans that had been submitted by potential shale-gas miners. They also felt that the precautionary principle should remain in place until outstanding scientific questions were adequately answered.

There was a “golden opportunity”, Deal argued, for government to restart the consultation process, the length of the previous consultation should not be confused with a credible process.

Deal said he had been heartened by Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s indication that he was willing to engage with the TKAG. However, neither he nor Kleynhans had received a formal approach from the Minister.

The alliance, which signed off its letter to Zuma with the words “in good faith”, said it hoped to receive a positive response from government to its “non-litigious” overture within the coming 30 days.

Should no response emerge, however, preparations would be made to take “legal steps”, the first of which was likely to be triggered should government grant an exploration licence to any of the current applicants.

Kleynhans indicated that AfriForum already had the financial wherewithal to take the matter legal and that it was convinced that there would be others willing to join the alliance in what threatened to become an expensive and drawn out legal battle.

“Our letter presents government with a valuable opportunity to address fatal flaws in its approach to shale-gas mining without the need for enormously expensive and embarrassing litigation from the citizens of South Africa,” Deal said.

But he likened the current approach to agreeing to “get on a plane where we don’t even know if the pilot has a licence, or if the plane has been serviced”.

“This is not about bunny hugging and we wouldn’t have the effrontery to talk about stars and birds and bees and rabbits when this country needs energy and it needs employment,” Deal stressed, adding that the debate needed to centre on economics and the science.

Deal also embraced the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) recent opposition to fracking, which drew a wry smile from Kleynhans, who admitted that AfriForum, which is known for fighting for minority Afrikaner rights, was not currently on speaking terms with JuliusMalema’s party.

“[The EFF] have indicated that they are going against [fracking], but obviously they have their own political motives . . . if they can put a piece of paper in front of us, we will definitely read through it and see what they have to say.”

Deal was more enthusiastic about the EFF’s potential involvement saying: “I’m not a political animal at all and I’ve had to learn politics fairly quickly in the last three-and-a-half years. But one thing I would say for Julius Malema is that, if he has an opinion, he’s not scared to make it known and not scared to stand up for it – and I admire that in him”.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

Falcon Gas CEO may be too hasty for SA shale gas – TKAG


News from BLOOMBERG is that

(http://bit.ly/FalconShalegas)

Falcon Oil CEO Expects South Africa Shale Permit in Second Half

After unsuccessfully trying to have a response published by BLOOMBERG, TKAG posts it’s views on Falcon CEO’s SA wish list.

Here is the article by Bloomberg: TKAG response below.

Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. expects to be awarded a permit to start exploration at its shale plot in the Karoo basin in South Africa in the second half of the year after technical regulations are published.

“Our focus will be South Africa over the next 12 months,” Chief Executive Officer Philip O’Quigley said in an interview. The Dublin-based company, which signed a five-year exclusive co-operation agreement with Chevron Corp. in 2012, may sell a stake in the asset following the approval.

The Karoo basin in the southern part of the country may have 390 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable gas, making it the world’s eighth-biggest shale-gas deposit, according to the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration. Falcon holds 7.5 million acres, according to a company presentation.

“The development of an upstream oil and gas industry will be a focus during the next five years,” Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told a lawmakers committee in Cape Town on July 8. “We want to unlock investment as quickly as possible.”

South Africa has published draft regulations for the shale gas industry, which require drillers to meet American Petroleum Institute standards governing the type of equipment used and the disclosure of chemicals. Final rules are due to be issued in the next few months.

Earlier in the year, parliament approved separate legislation which will grant the government the right to take a 20 percent free stake in all new oil and gas projects and acquire a further unspecified share at an agreed price. President Jacob Zuma was asked to hold off on signing the law pending a review by a ministerial committee that will aim to ensure the law doesn’t discourage investment, Ramatlhodi said.

“We are delighted the government wants oil and shale gas exploration to start as soon as possible,” O’Quigley said.

Falcon has assets in the Beetaloo basin in Australia, where it’s planning to drill three wells this year, and in Hungary, where it’s looking for a company to further develop the license.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at nbakhsh@bloomberg.net; Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net Alex Devine, Indranil Ghosh

_______________________________________

TKAG RESPONSE:

An open letter to Mr. Philip O’Quigley –

Chief Executive Officer of Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd.

July 14 2014

Dear Mr. O’Quigley,

I have read in the press (Bloomberg July 11 2014) of your company’s anticipation that it will receive a permit from the South African government to commence exploration in the unique and sensitive Karoo basin ‘in the second half of the year’ and following the publishing of technical regulations.

TKAG has communicated with your venture partner, Chevron Corporation with regard to its involvement in this Karoo acreage, and in August of 2013 suggested that Chevron may wish to invest some time in reviewing the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) submitted by Falcon in 2011 to the Petroleum Agency of Southern Africa. TKAG and our alliance partners remain shocked and dismayed at the cavalier attitude displayed by Falcon and Chevron to the introduction of shale gas mining into a uniquely sensitive area in a water-scarce country and under the spectre of a plethora of unresolved issues standing between your company and a permit to commence exploration and possibly full production via fracking in South Africa.

Mr. O’Quigley, it is my obligation and duty to inform you that the issue of a permit to your company to commence exploration in South Africa for shale gas may be somewhat further away than you have publicly anticipated. I might add too that even should you have the permit to hand in the next five months, it may be far longer than that, before your company starts breaking ground in the Karoo, if ever. In essence, just because Falcon, Chevron et al are fracking elsewhere in the world doesn’t mean that you will succeed in bringing shale mining here.

TKAG and its alliance partners are not opposed to responsible and sustainable development of natural resources for the present and future benefit of South Africans. We will not submit to the imposition of a technology such as this under the current circumstances in South Africa – circumstances of which Falcon and Chevron are fully aware and which will militate against the commencement of this process in South Africa.

We invite you to send a representative to a press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg on July 22nd at which TKAG and its alliance partner, AfriForum will reveal a significant development in the shale gas debate in South Africa.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Deal

CEO

 

AfriForum and TKAG to reveal SA Shale gas development


MEDIA ADVICE

 17 July 2014

AfriForum and TKAG will reveal the contents and nature of an engagement with the State concerning shale gas mining (fracking) and specifically the recent announcements of President Jacob Zuma in this regard.
This will take place at a press conference at Sandton Convention Centre, 161 Maude Street Sandton, 2196 at 10h30 on Tuesday July 22nd.  Press packs will be distributed after questions from the media and this will be followed by refreshments.
If you wish to attend the briefing please respond to research@treasurethekaroo.co.za with the words ‘Will attend 22 July’ in the subject line. If you require an embargoed copy of the press statement and supporting documents please write to research@treasurethekaroo.co.za.
For more detail or to request a copy of the release and supporting documents after the press conference is concluded, please contact Jeanie Le Roux on 072-959-1818 or research@treasurethekaroo.co.za

ENDS/

Jonathan Deal CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group |  Landline: 023-358-9903 | Cell 076-838-5150 |

E-mail: jonathan.deal@treasurethekaroo.co.za

 

From New York to Nkandla shale gas is a ‘game-changer’


This article first published July 15 in Daily Maverick – South Africa’s leading online publication

TO ACCESS THE EMBEDDED LINKS FOLLOW THE DAILY MAVERICK LINK BELOW

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2014-07-15-from-new-york-to-nkandla-shale-gas-is-indeed-a-game-changer/#.U8TFT42SyCg

WINNING OVER CRITICS AND INFLUENCING PEOPLE.
15 JULY 2014 07:58 (SOUTH AFRICA)
OPINIONISTA JONATHAN DEAL

From New York to Nkandla, shale gas is indeed a game-changer

  • JONATHAN DEAL
Shale gas has been hailed as a game changer worldwide, but many of the numbers being crunched are outdated – and the reality is a little more sobering. It’s worth picking up on US shale gas hype and bringing it down to earth in the Karoo.
Since 2011, there have been some incredible statements from oil and gas executives, but the uncontested winner must come from Chris Faulkner: “There is enough oil and gas underground (in America) to supply America for an almost endless amount of time.”

It’s a case of this news is bad news for Shell and the ANC


 

Odds mounting against fracking in South Africa and elsewhere

http://bit.ly/1jYi98S

This article is the first in a series of timelines detailing global developments in and around shale gas mining – the links will address media reports and occurrences in 2014. Separate and dynamic posts on 2013, 2012 and 2011 will follow. The current year will be updated regularly. Comment is welcomed, and submissions considered for addition to the table. AFTER VIEWING A LINK, USE YOUR BROWSER ‘BACK TO’ OPTION TO RETURN TO THIS POST

Global occurrences and media related to shale gas mining – 2014

June 27 | International film maker Jeffrey Barbee and earth Focus Report on Fracking in South Africa, UK and Poland
June 20 | Global Alliance launched
June 20 | SA Zoning laws threaten fracking
June 19 | Opposition mounts to SA mining law amendment
June 20 | New Mining Minister seeks to delay changes
June 19 | US State health employees muzzled on fracking
June 16 | US fracking industry takes it on the chin
June 17 | Fracking company Range Resources ordered to disclose chemicals
June 17 | Fracking in SA – profits for big business and costs for the citizens?
June 10 | The increasingly dislocated economics of oil production
June 10 | German officials pushing for fracking by 2015 face stiff opposition
June 08 | US inspections fail to keep pace with fracking – place environment at risk
June 08 | President Obama expresses frustration with climate change deniers – cites science
June 08 | Up to 10% of British Columbia Natural Gas Wells spewing methane – report
June 06 | US shale boom is over – cornucopians with egg on face
May 30 | SA legal firm counts SA energy from shale as worth 310 years
May 27 | Are the frackers going broke?