AfriForum and TKAG to reveal SA Shale gas development


 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 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
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


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



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 My reply to RIGZONE on their own online comment section may not be published, and is set out underneath the RIGZONE article.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

Energy independence from shale up in smoke?

The shale mining fraternity, still reeling from the release of a Scientific Report on the effect of shale gas mining – released by the Canadian Council of Academies has been dealt another blow with the news that the golden energy goose of California has been reduced by 96% – by the US Energy Information Administration. The industry and its proponents in government and commerce have long been warned about the overhyping of shale gas assets in the US. Even in South Africa, the original estimates by the USGS, of 485tcf have been downgraded by South Africa’s own scientists to a ‘best case extraction scenario of 40tcf.

U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96%

Economy, Business and Finance Petroleum Industry Energy Resources Upstream Oil and Gas Activities
The Monterey Shale formation contains about two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil reserves
An earlier estimate assumed Monterey Shale oil deposits were as easily recoverable as those found elsewhere

Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California’s vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national “black gold mine” of petroleum.

Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation’s oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.

The Monterey Shale formation contains about two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil reserves. It had been seen as an enormous bonanza, reducing the nation’s need for foreign oil imports through the use of the latest in extraction techniques, including acid treatments, horizontal drilling and fracking.

The energy agency said the earlier estimate of recoverable oil, issued in 2011 by an independent firm under contract with the government, broadly assumed that deposits in the Monterey Shale formation were as easily recoverable as those found in shale formations elsewhere.

The estimate touched off a speculation boom among oil companies. The new findings seem certain to dampen that enthusiasm.

Kern County in particular has seen a flurry of oil activity since 2011, with most of the test wells drilled by independent exploratory companies. Major oil companies have expressed doubts for years about recovering much of the oil.

The problem lies with the geology of the Monterey Shale, a 1,750-mile formation running down the center of California roughly from Sacramento to the Los Angeles basin and including some coastal regions.

Unlike heavily fracked shale deposits in North Dakota and Texas, which are relatively even and layered like a cake, Monterey Shale has been folded and shattered by seismic activity, with the oil found at deeper strata.

Geologists have long known that the rich deposits existed but they were not thought recoverable until the price of oil rose and the industry developed acidization, which eats away rocks, and fracking, the process of injecting millions of gallons of water laced with sand and chemicals deep underground to crack shale formations.

The new analysis from the Energy Information Administration was based, in part, on a review of the output from wells where the new techniques were used.

“From the information we’ve been able to gather, we’ve not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking,” said John Staub, a petroleum exploration and production analyst who led the energy agency’s research.

“Our oil production estimates combined with a dearth of knowledge about geological differences among the oil fields led to erroneous predictions and estimates,” Staub said.

Compared with oil production from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, “the Monterey formation is stagnant,” Staub said. He added that the potential for recovering the oil could rise if new technology is developed.

A spokesman for the oil industry expressed optimism that new techniques will eventually open up the Monterey formation.

“We have a lot of confidence in the intelligence and skill of our engineers and geologists to find ways to adapt,” said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Assn. “As the technologies change, the production rates could also change dramatically.”

Rock Zierman, chief executive of the trade group California Independent Petroleum Assn., which represents many independent exploration companies, also sounded hopeful.

“The smart money is still investing in California oil and gas,” Zierman said.

“The oil is there,” Zierman said. “But this is a tough business.”

Environmental organizations welcomed the news as a turning point in what had been a rush to frack for oil in the Monterey formation.

“The narrative of fracking in the Monterey Shale as necessary for energy independence just had a big hole blown in it,” said Seth B. Shonkoff, executive director of the nonprofit Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy.

J. David Hughes, a geoscientist and spokesman for the nonprofit Post Carbon Institute, said the Monterey formation “was always mythical mother lode puffed up by the oil industry — it never existed.”

Hughes wrote in a report last year that “California should consider its economic and energy future in the absence of an oil production boom from the Monterey Shale.”

The 2011 estimate was done by the Virginia engineering firm Intek Inc.

Christopher Dean, senior associate at Intek, said Tuesday that the firm’s work “was very broad, giving the federal government its first shot at an estimate of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale. They got more data over time and refined the estimate.”

For California, the analysis throws cold water on economic projections built upon Intek’s projections.

In 2013, a USC analysis, funded in part by the Western States Petroleum Assn., predicted that the Monterey Shale formation could, by 2020, boost California’s gross domestic product by 14%, add $24.6 billion per year in tax revenue and generate 2.8 million new jobs.


Cheap gas hopes fading in Britain – but Jacob Zuma hangs SA hopes on shale

Express. Home of the Daily and Sunday Express.express_logo

Dashed hopes of cheap gas as fracking giant Cuadrilla scales back

MOVES to start fracking for shale gas across Britain have received a major setback after one of the largest firms involved in the industry dramatically scaled back its plans.

Published: Mon, January 27, 2014

Cuardrilla one of the largest fracking firms went under investigaton by the BBC

Cuardrilla, one of the largest fracking firms, went under investigaton by the BBC [ALAMY]

The firm, Cuadrilla, has admitted to a BBC investigation that it has decided to “withdraw previous permit applications for our sites in Lancashire”.

The move means that while the firm can drill test sites it cannot frack any gas or oil reserves it finds.

Work can go ahead only if it has Environment Agency radioactive waste permits proving extractors can safely remove dangerous waste products.

Fracking involves pumping high-pressure water into rock deep underground to open fissures and release trapped gas.

A by-product is waste water contaminated by natural low-level radiation. Cuadrilla insisted to BBC Inside Out North West that it does hope in the future to submit new waste permit applications in Lancashire where shale rock is thought to contain huge amounts of natural gas.

But radiation waste adviser Dr Trevor Jones told BBC investigators that significant investment is likely to be needed to find a way to solve the waste problem, meaning plans for fracking all across the UK could be held up. The Government has pinned hopes for cheaper energy on the success of fracking.

Fracking, Cuadrilla, gas prices, economics, balcombe, shale gas, drilling

Protestors at the fracking site in Balcombe last summer [GETTY]

Fracking may or may not become a boom industry Paul Rose, marine expert and explorer

But Dr Jones explained: “Suitable treatment technologies are not available off the shelf and that will, inevitably delay fracking operations.”

Cuadrilla believes it can overcome the issue of disposing of radioactive water and says it has run successful trials. But these have yet to be proven full-scale.

The TV investigation, to be shown at 7.30pm tonight on BBC1 in the North-west, also reveals that almost two million gallons of radioactive water produced by Cuadrilla under earlier rules was authorised for discharge, legally, into the Manchester Ship Canal.

Marine expert and explorer Paul Rose, who presents the programme, concludes: “Fracking may or may not become a boom industry.

“The operators will know what’s down there only by drilling many more exploratory wells. If the gas is viable, they’ll be producing lots and lots of water contaminated with radiation. The only certainty we have now is that no one, yet, can guarantee how those sorts of volumes are going to be cleaned.”

During the summer, Cuadrilla was the target of protests by locals and hundreds of activists from around the country over its drilling activities in Balcombe, West Sussex.

The company announced last week that it would not frack at Balcombe because, although it had found oil at the site, the nature of the rock meant fracking was not a suitable extraction technique.

Related articles

Total sheds dollars in US shale

Total takes $500 mln impairment on Barnett shale gas field

PARIS Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:39am EST

Feb 12 (Reuters) – French oil major Total said it took a $500 million hit last year on the Barnett gas shale area in Texas relating to the drop in gas prices in North America, where it has a joint venture with Chesapeake Energy Corp.

“We passed a $500 million impairment on the Barnett shale gas field in 2013,” Total investor relations head Martin Deffontaines said at a briefing with reporters on Wednesday. “That’s much less than our competitors.” [and he is right, BP, Shell and BHP Billiton lost much more than that in the same period]


New EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sets the standard

Note the emphasis on communication with the public and the role of science in informing policy. A marked departure from the norm in South Africa – especially with reference to the conduct of the Department of Minerals.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

November 14, 2013

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Testimony Before House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

As prepared for delivery.

Good morning Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Johnson, and other distinguished members of the Committee. I am pleased to be here to talk about the central role science plays at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Let me begin by stating that science is and has always been the backbone of the EPA’s decision-making. The Agency’s ability to pursue its mission to protect human health and the environment depends upon the integrity of the science upon which it relies. I firmly believe that environmental policies, decisions, guidance, and regulations that impact the lives of all Americans must be grounded, at a most fundamental level, in sound, high quality, transparent, science.

Because we rely so heavily on science to meet our mission on behalf of the American people, it must be conducted in ways that are transparent, free from bias and conflicts of interest, and of the highest quality, integrity, and credibility. These qualities are important not just within our own organization and the federal government, but across the scientific community, with its long established and highly honorable commitment to maintaining strict adherence to ethical investigation and research. That’s why the agency has established—and embraced—a Scientific Integrity Policy that builds upon existing Agency and government-wide policies and guidance documents, explicitly outlining the EPA’s commitment to the highest standards of scientific integrity. And that commitment extends to any scientist or organization who wishes to contribute to our efforts. All EPA-funded research projects, whether conducted by EPA scientists or outside grantees and collaborators, must comply with the agency’s rigorous quality assurance requirements.

To ensure that we have the best possible science, we are committed to rigorous, independent peer review of the scientific data, models and analyses that support our decisions.  Peer review can take a number of forms, ranging from external reviews by the National Academy of Sciences or the EPA’s federal advisory committees to contractor-coordinated reviews. Consistent with OMB guidance, we require peer review for all EPA research products and for all influential scientific information and highly influential scientific assessments.

Among the external advisory committees is the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB). SAB reviews are conducted by groups of independent non-EPA scientists with the range of expertise required for the particular advisory topic. We invite the public to nominate experts for SAB panels and to comment on candidates being considered by the EPA for SAB panels. The EPA evaluates public comments and information submitted about SAB nominees. The EPA reviews experts’ confidential financial information to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.

SAB peer reviews are conducted in public sessions in compliance with the open-government requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The public is invited to attend and to provide oral and written comments for consideration by the SAB. Public comments help to ensure that all relevant scientific and technical issues are available to the SAB as it reviews the science that will support our environmental decisions.

Another example is the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) which provides independent advice to the EPA Administrator on the science that supports the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The CASAC reviews the EPA’s Integrated Science Assessments which deliver science in support of the Clean Air Act.

Thanks to the science behind the implementation of the Clean Air Act, we have made significant and far-reaching improvements in the health and well-being of the American public. In 2010 alone, EPA estimates that programs implemented pursuant to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 avoided 160,000 premature deaths millions of cases of respiratory problems such as acute bronchitis and asthma attacks; 45,000 cardiovascular hospitalizations; and 41,000 hospital admissions. These improvements have all occurred during a period of economic growth; between1970 and 2012 the Gross Domestic Product increased by 219 percent.

Through a transparent and open process, we have also committed to enhancing the Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment program. A strong, scientifically rigorous IRIS Program is of critical importance, and the EPA is in the process of: 1) enhancing the scientific integrity of assessments; 2) enhancing the productivity of the Program; and 3) increasing transparency so that issues are identified and debated early in the process. In 2009, the EPA made significant enhancements to IRIS by announcing a new 7-step assessment development process. Since that time, the National Research Council (NRC) has made recommendations related to enhancing the development of IRIS assessments. The EPA is making changes to the IRIS Program to implement the NRC recommendations. These changes will help the EPA produce more high quality IRIS assessments each year in a timely and transparent manner to meet the needs of the Agency and the public. A newly released NRC report is largely supportive of the enhanced approach the EPA is taking to develop the IRIS assessment for inorganic arsenic.

As I mentioned in my opening statement, science is the backbone of our decision-making and our work is based on the principles of scientific integrity and transparency that are both expected and deserved by the American people. I am proud of the EPA’s research efforts and the sound use of science and technology to fulfill the EPA’s mission to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.


US banks refuse to mortgage fracked property

Fracking Boom Gives Banks Mortgage Headaches

NOV 12, 2013 11:19am ET

An East Coast oil boom has promised potential riches to lucky landowners. But the oil rush may cause big headaches for some unlucky banks.

At least three institutions — Tompkins Financial (TMP) in Ithaca, N.Y., Spain’s Santander Bank and State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C. — are refusing to make mortgages on land where oil or gas rights have been sold to an energy company.

Due to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, huge swaths of territory are potential sites for oil and natural gas, ranging from New York state and Pennsylvania to West Virginia and North Carolina.

But much of this land is occupied by single-family homes and farms. If oil or gas is beneath his property, a homeowner could sell the rights to an energy firm, potentially reaping millions of dollars. That transaction could also derail a mortgage.

The uniform New York state mortgage agreement, used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, states that “you cannot cause or permit any hazardous materials to be on your property and it specifically references oil and gas,” says Greg May, vice president of residential mortgage lending at Tompkins. “That alone would make it a problem.”

The mortgage agreement says homeowners can sell an oil or gas lease to an energy firm with prior consent from a lender, but May says, “I don’t know any lenders who are granting that right now.”

If Fannie Mae owns the mortgage, it’s unlikely it would approve such a transfer. Fannie Mae generally does not “allow surface instruments,” such as an oil rig, on property it owns, says spokeswoman Callie Dosberg. A landowner could apply for prior approval, and there “may be a work-around, but generally the agency does not approve such requests,” she says.

A greater concern for homeowners is that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could force the entire outstanding loan balance to become due immediately.

Freddie Mac is within its legal authority to exercise a mortgage’s “due on sale” clause if a borrower enters into a mineral-rights agreement, says spokesman Brad German. He says no “public information” is available to show if that has ever happened.

An ability to exercise the “due on sale” clause is triggered if a landowner transfers a right attached to the property; or through language that bars “hazardous conditions” on the site, German says. A clause in Freddie Mac’s standard security instrument bars “the borrower from taking any action that could cause the deterioration, damage or decrease in value of the subject property.”

So “the borrower cannot enter into a mineral lease without express approval,” German says.

Banks are in a bind, too, May says. On one hand, they must follow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies, but they don’t want to add dozens of foreclosed homes to their books.

“Lenders are trying really hard to play a neutral role in this,” May says. “We’re not in the market to own real estate. We want to make loans.”

A lender could still make mortgage loans on property where oil fracking is occurring, but the bank would have to hold the mortgage to maturity, May says. “If someone came to us with significant dollars, a 50% loan-to-value ratio and great credit, we might make a portfolio loan,” even if fracking is taking place on the land, he says.

State Employees’ Credit Union said this year that it would stop making mortgages on properties that have mineral rights “severed,” meaning the landowner sold the oil rights. About 80% of the credit union’s $14.5 billion loan portfolio involves residential mortgages.

Oil rigs on a piece of land would affect the values of neighboring properties, says Jim Blaine, the $27 billion-asset credit union’s president.

“You could end up where someone puts a drilling platform on that property,” Blaine says. “We’d have to tell their neighbors, ‘We’re sorry, your property value just went down.'”

The credit union was one of several financial institutions that pushed North Carolina lawmakers to pass a law requiring it to be “very clearly stated” in a sales contract whether a property’s mineral rights have been severed, Blaine says.

The $76 billion-asset Santander Bank, formerly Sovereign Bank, added a clause in September 2012 to mortgage agreements stating that it will not make loans where a property owner has severed the mineral rights.

“We include this clause as a means of reducing the bank’s risk and protecting its financial strength, which benefits all of our customers,” says Santander spokeswoman Siobhan O’Shea.

Santander has branches in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, where oil and gas fracking is centered. Santander, “to the best of our knowledge,” has not recalled a mortgage for any property financed before the new clause was added to legal agreements, O’Shea says.

The $4.9 billion-asset Tompkins has not changed its policy on mortgage loans, but is “just following the policy that’s always been there,” which says that an oil or gas lease is in “direct conflict” with the terms of a uniform mortgage loan, May says.

“I’m not pro- or con-drilling,” May says. “My charge at Tompkins is to control the risk to the best of my ability.”