Why oppose fracking in South Africa in 2015?


In the shadow of fracking exploration in South Africa

A synopsis for interested and affected South Africans

 

For more than four years, South Africans (those who follow the media) have been exposed to a media-driven debate on shale gas mining (fracking). Driven largely by Royal Dutch Shell and then Shell South Africa, the public has been exposed to false advertising and simple lies by the applicants to mine shale gas. The government has mismanaged this debate and its concomitant decision on behalf of South Africans in the most appalling manner. Quite apart from the fact that the ANC, as of January 2015, has an increased shareholding and interests in Shell South Africa, the Zuma administration permitted and even encouraged the previous Minister of Minerals, Ms. Susan Shabangu to sidestep the instructions of Cabinet, ignore any voices of dissent in the country and present, in September 2012, a so-called task team report on fracking that roundly fails to grasp even the rudimentary aspects and risks of the technology. At the time that the task team report pronounced fracking safe, not a single South African medical specialist had been included in the task team.

 

In early 2014 President Zuma, at least 18 months before even preliminary exploration commenced, announced as if by some divine revelation, that fracking would be an economic game-changer for South Africa.

 

Meanwhile, around the world, the list of countries, states, provinces, cities and towns that are banning fracking or at least exposing it to some form of government moratorium or restriction is growing. In just December 2014 and January 2015, New York State, Scotland and the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada have banned fracking, and Algeria has imposed a 7 year moratorium. Maryland is soon to vote on an 8-year moratorium. Notably, in the home country of Shell’s head office (the Netherlands), 71% of the Dutch Parliament placed fracking under an effective moratorium until 2017. The Canadian and NYS bans are especially interesting as they cited two main reasons – water pollution and health concerns; and the failure of shale gas mining to deliver the benefits promised by the industry.

 

Against this background, ANC Ministers faithfully recite figures of jobs and revenue extracted from the Econometrix Report paid for by Shell SA and released in 2012. Notwithstanding the fact that the figures derived from the Econometrix report ignore any of the environmental and secondary costs of fracking such as impacts on eco-system services, farming and tourism (the model applied has been formally criticized by other economists) no one from Shell or our government has rectified the disparity between the 485tcf of gas and the acknowledged best case by South African Scientists of around 30tcf. This is a reduction of 13 times. Yet the 700 000 Shell jobs – based on a percentage of the 485tcf is still touted by Shell and the government.

 

Global estimates of gas resources stem primarily from two sources – the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the US and that country’s USGS (United States Geological Survey). Almost without exception the first ‘estimated’ gas reserves around the globe have proven to be roundly and routinely overstated. It was the EIA that estimated 18 billion barrels of shale oil from the Monterey Shale in California. This sparked a fierce debate in that State with Governor Jerry Brown vowing to pursue and extract the resource (much like President Zuma in SA). Even President Obama counted ‘at least 100 years of US energy from shale gas’. Less than 24 months later, the EIA had to admit their mistake and slash the reserve by 96%. Similarly, the Marcellus shale was slashed by hundreds of TCF.

 

So, a clear picture is emerging in the global marketing of shale gas by the powerful oil and gas industry and their allies in governments around the world. Overstate the benefits to desperate governments. Promise energy, jobs, money and a false reduction of greenhouse gases. Once the momentum has built up and established a political will, use it to influence policy whilst ignoring science.

 

In South Africa, our government, far from serving the people in this matter, is playing lapdog to Shell, while Falcon, Chevron and Challenger Energy tag along. World-class reports, (such as the Canadian Report) hand-delivered to our President, and to every MEC and Premier of every province are ignored. Public consultation by the government around the holistic concept of shale gas mining has not yet taken place in any form. Draft regulations on fracking, which were open for comment for 30 calendar days in 2013 were slammed by US scientists as ‘pathetic’. Although there has been no feedback from the government on TKAG’s 800 page submission, the government has promised to release ‘final’ fracking regulations ‘soon’.

 

Our Bill of Rights and National Environmental Management Act are unequivocal on the issues of environment. Yet, the deck remains stacked against science.

 

The government has instructed applicants (Shell, Falcon and Bundu) to remove any mention of fracking from their Environmental Management Plans, and so the new round of public consultation becomes focused on ‘exploration techniques only’ – no mention of fracking. This is misleading and disingenuous – but it permits the companies to get the process started and most likely to receive a rapid transition from ’no fracking in exploration until later notice’ to using fracking in exploration – and then a smooth roll-over into full scale production.

 

Those who are opposing fracking in South Africa under the present circumstances are thus pushed into a corner. We can stand back and permit the tableau to play itself out – or we can take action. A solution to halting this headlong game-changer, game-changer rush of the government is for landowners to stand together. Even when the applicants are armed with an ‘exploration licence’ there are many administrative and legal hurdles facing them. A company armed with an exploration licence may not summarily enter your land, for any purpose. They have to consult with you at your convenience and negotiate access and a land-use agreement or similar accord.

 

You can help to balance the skewed scales by:

  1. Demanding identification and a letter of authority/resolution from the person approaching on behalf of the applicant.
  2. Refusing access to the farm and referring them to your lawyer.
  3. Taking your time – their schedule is not your schedule – you are entitled to be fully aware of the import of each and every clause and condition and all of the possible negative effects on your operation.
  4. Putting them to terms about who will pay for baseline tests on your water, vegetation, livestock and staff health before any access and activity takes place.
  5. Putting them to terms on who will pay your attorney costs to represent your interests in this matter (why should you pay to research something that you don’t even want on your farm and which brings you no profit but only risk to your land value?)

The key to this exercise, and the fundamental aim is to level the playing field – not be dishonest or deceitful. This is a straightforward, morally sound and legal remedy to a situation that is fraught with lies from industry and conflicts of interest in the very institution that should be protecting, instead of disadvantaging the food producers of South Africa.

I hope that this synopsis has convinced you of what needs to be done, and I pray that you will stand up and stand together as a group to resist those who wish to rush shale gas mining into this country.

Solidarity. For sustainability, truth and a future beyond the coffers of the ANC, Shell and foreign mining companies.

 

 

Jonathan Deal

February 2015

 

 

Karoo advocacy group in gear for government consultations


Public consultation and participation around fracking is just one of the facets in which the SA Government has failed its citizens. Treasure Karoo Action Group is continually on top of this vital issue.

DMR pages 1-3

DMR pages 1-3-1

DMR pages 1-3-2

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.”

Oil industry mouthpiece, RIGZONE speculates on SA fracking


An online article July 8, by oil and gas industry mouthpiece RIGZONE proclaims “SOUTH AFRICA EDGES CLOSER TO KAROO SHALE GAS DEVELOPMENT” Peppered with inaccuracies, and drawing on phrases like ‘rolling blackouts in South Africa in May of this year’, the article regurgitates the industry speculation that we have heard in this country since January 2011. Here is the article. My reply to RIGZONE on their own online comment section may not be published, and is set out underneath the RIGZONE article.


A Rigzone nonsense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe that the article is poorly researched, and as one would expect biased towards the oil and gas industry that supports your publication. As proof, I mention just one point that jumps out of the text. ‘300 000 to 700 000 jobs over 25 years. (485tcf)’ Anyone who has done their homework knows that South African scientists long ago reduced that figure from 485 to 40tcf – so any estimates based on 485 are irrelevant – much like the industry hype and speculation over Monterey. No Sir, those backing shale mining in SA may feel that it is edging closer, but actually the news on shale gas globally is not good and is building a strong body of evidence against SA moving ahead under the current circumstances. Jonathan Deal, CEO, Treasure Karoo Action Group, South Africa.

B Rigzone nonsense-1

Interdict sought over Paleishuewel 80Mw Solar Power Plant


A press statement released by British based solar energy and manufacturing company, Electra Energy Holdings Ltd, confirms that the company is to petition the South African High Court for an interim interdict to halt construction of the proposed 82.5Mw solar plant at Paleisheuwel Western Cape. In its press statement, Electra alleges that there may have been fraudulent misrepresentation by persons at RE:RE capital (a company registered and doing business in South Africa).

Investigation has revealed that at this date references to RE:RE Capital that were readily accessible on the web, appear to have disappeared – including marketing information pertaining to the company and at least one of its directors. Coincidentally RE:RE Capital was investigated by Jonathan Deal in 2013 as part of a personal enquiry by Deal into the activities of Mr. Simon Lincoln Reader.

Simon Lincoln Reader

It can be confirmed that in the now defunct marketing spiel of RE:RE Capital, Simon Lincoln Reader was listed as CEO & Chief Investment Officer. The company was described as ‘a boutique private equity firm, founded in 2011, specialising in the financing, development and support of renewable energy. The marketing statement continued: ‘One of RE:RE Capital’s assets, the Paleisheuwel Solar Facility, located in the Cederberg Municipal Region… approximately 10km north of the agricultural support town of Paleisheuwel … The generation of renewable energy (solar photovoltaic) will subsequently provide the adjacent and neighbouring community with a source of clean, efficient and reliable energy.’  Marketing statement continued: ‘RE:RE Capital has sought to identify particular areas of additional assistance. One of the principle features of the development exists in the creation of local employment that will support and maintain the solar facility, yet another area has been identified – that of agricultural education, relevant to the development of communities with the intention of establishing an additional line of employment potential – a feature that will simultaneously serve to mitigate the minimal impacts upon agricultural potential the development makes. 

‘Through its networks, RE:RE Capital … has …  FAADA – The Forward Africa Agricultural Development Academy – that will partner locally with Rooibos  … to educate schools, communities and leaders about the future of agriculture [what about the bright future of shale gas] … nurturing a new generation of new farmers who will understand the benefits of renewable energy within the cycle of sustainable food production and security.’

The corporate intro continues: … ‘The addition of new industries is therefore critical to the employment factor – particularly industries with minimal environmental impact and who are, by mere virtue of structure, entirely sustainable. There are two critical tiers of thought … firstly, to create employment and, secondly, to enable structures that contribute to the protection of the agricultural industry. Coupled to both is the developing relationship between agriculture and renewable energy.

Under ‘stage 2’ of ‘Conceptualisation’ RE:RE’ corporate pitch clarified: ‘This will be the process whereby RE:RE Capital selects / invites academics, farmers, food, soil and sustainability experts, water and irrigation specialists, fauna and flora specialists, renewable energy companies and any other relevant party to submit presentations for consideration. And in Conceptualisation ‘2’ RE:RE Capital listed as ‘stage 5’ the goal  ‘The completion of the FAADA farm, owned and managed by a community / communities, that utilises only renewable energies in its production and irrigation techniques. 

The RE:RE Capital data wrapped up with emphasis that ‘The nature of RE:RE Capital’s business is partnerships: partnerships in the production of renewable energy, … RE:RE Capital understands the threats faced by agriculture … and, most importantly, cultivating the theme of sustainability  … Throughout the process undertaken thus far to the development of Paleisheuwel, RE:RE Capital has sought to express its interest in local employment. RE:RE Capital hopes that this initiative is met with the participation and support of the Western Cape Government’s Agricultural Department … ‘

The above extracts from the now missing data on RE:RE Capital can be accessed at  can be accessed at https://jonathandealblog.com/2013/07/06/oh-deer-is-simon-lincoln-reader-coming-or-going/ 

 Press Statement From Electra Energy Holdings

Electra Energy Holdings

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?

 

 

Webber Wentzel counts 310 years of Energy for SA from Karoo gas


Read the opening statement of SA law firm Webber Wentzel’s Pulane Kingston in a May 30 debate on national radio in South Africa. Kingston is a partner in the Oil and Gas practice of the firm. The debate motion (hosted jointly by WWF South Africa and SAFM – a national radio station), pitted two teams of ‘experts’ against one another. The formal motion was ‘FRACKING THREATENS OUR WATER RESOURCES’, and debaters were afforded 2 minutes for an opening statement.

Referencing ’emotional and alarmist statements’ [about shale gas] as something to avoid, Kingston embarked on an opening statement, that apart from failing even once to obliquely reference the debate motion, was materially inaccurate and curiously muddled for a legal professional and so-called expert on fracking. Basing her argument on obsolete figures of speculative shale gas reserves already slashed by South African scientists and referencing industry commissioned (Royal Dutch Shell) reports based on shale gas reserves 13 times greater than current best estimates, Kingston was apparently so taken with her calculation of 310 years of energy for South Africa out of speculated Karoo reserves that the issue of water, and the motion of the debate against which she was expected to argue, appeared to evaporate like a drop of water on a hot Karoo tin roof. A sober review of Kingston’s 310 year claim could be said by those with a more pragmatic approach to the speculative land of milk and honey, to earn first place in the joint categories of ’emotional and alarmist’. I have to conclude that if this position reflects the understanding and expertise of shale gas mining to be found in the top legal minds of South Africa, it demonstrates that the country is in a dire situation with regard to understanding the issues intrinsic to shale gas mining. A rigorous and structured follow-up debate with Kingston sans radio adverts, news reports and audience participation will be welcomed.

The opening statement can be viewed on Youtube at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXeSEPdu9xc and is here in text: (begins 14 minutes and 10 seconds into the debate)

PULANE KINGSTON:

“Shale gas presents an incredible opportunity with tremendous economic benefits overall. In the context of the shale gas reserves total which are estimated at 390 tcfs, there are two points that I would like to make. The first is that in terms of energy security it is estimated that the reserves that are available can meet our energy requirements for the next 310 years. That is significant. Secondly, in the context of job creation, they would create at least 850,000 jobs according to a report by Econometrix. The second point I would like to make is that as responsible citizens in this country, we need to really move away from emotion and alarmist statements that ultimately detract from our ability to focus on the risks in a sober minded manner and to ensure that those risks are appropriately attended. It is incumbent of all of us to do this in order that we end up at a place that is the correct conclusion. To my mind the fundamental issue here lies in the government creating a regulating framework that ensures the success of fracking in the Karoo which is done in a sustainable and responsible manner. The definition here for me as well is that monitoring shale gas fracking is ultimately what is important and should be what we are focusing on at all times.”