SA Minister of Minerals – announcement


From: GCIS Media liaison []
Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:02 AM
Subject: Statement by Minister Shabangu on the gazetting of technical regulations on petroleum exploration and exploitation


10th October 2013


The Cabinet meeting of 9th October 2013 has approved the gazetting of Technical Regulations on Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation. These Regulations will now be gazetted for a period of 30 days for public comment.


The proposed Regulations prescribe good international petroleum industry practices and standards, which enhance safe exploration and production of all petroleum (including, but not limited to, shale gas), and will further ensure that petroleum exploration is conducted in a socially and environmentally balanced manner.


When the moratorium on the processing of applications for exploration was imposed by the Department of Mineral Resources in 2011, and subsequently endorsed by Cabinet, a technical task-team was established to investigate the socio-economic and environmental impact, as well as any associated risks of shale gas exploration and exploitation.


The Investigation Report, which was concluded and published in 2012, made specific recommendations on measures that could be taken to mitigate the environmental impact of petroleum exploitation, with specific attention to shale gas hydraulic fracturing.


One of its primary recommendations was the need to ensure that South Africa’s regulatory framework is robust enough to ensure that if hydraulic fracturing associated with shale gas exploration and exploitation were approved, any resultant negative impact would be mitigated.


Cabinet then further issued a directive for South Africa’s current regulatory framework to be augmented.  An interdepartmental committee was then put together to look at strengthening the existing Regulations. It was made up of the following:

  • The Department of Mineral Resources
  • The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
  • The Department of Science and Technology
  • The Department of Energy
  • The Council for Geoscience, and
  • The Petroleum Agency of South Africa.


A comprehensive international benchmarking exercise of well-developed jurisdictions that have begun shale gas exploitation was also undertaken.


The Technical Regulations provide for the following:

(a)    Assessment of the potential impact of the proposed activities on the environment;

(b)   Protection of fresh water resources;

(c)    The protection of biodiversity, palaeontology and the broader environmental impact in line with the objectives of outcome 10 of Government;

(d)   Mechanisms for site-specific buffer zone determination for the co-existence of shale gas exploitation and the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project.

The Technical Regulations are applicable to both onshore and offshore exploration and production operations. They further address crucial elements of the hydraulic fracturing process under the following chapters:

  • Site Assessment, Selection and Preparation: this relates to site selection and preparation, taking into consideration resources that must be availed for hydraulic operations and the resources in respect of which necessary protection must be afforded such as the provision for the development of mechanisms for coexistence with the SKA observatory;
  • Well Design and Construction: this relates to well design in terms of well casing standards to ensure non-contamination of natural environmental and water resources;
  • Operations and management: makes provision for the management of the hydraulic fracturing process, including the disclosure of fracture fluids to be utilised and the testing of the structures to ensure they can sustain the pressures to be imposed;
  • Well Suspension and Abandonment: this chapter addresses issues related to the closure and rehabilitation of the operation.


We have a responsibility as Government to ensure security of energy supply for the country, and to explore energy sources that will improve the country’senergy mix, grow the economy and contribute to job creation. This will also enable us to contribute to the developmental objectives and targets set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).


By embarking on this process of exploring the opportunities presented by hydraulic fracturing for the production of shale gas, we bring the country a step closer to the achievement of our objectives. Not only does the potential of shale gas exploration and exploitation provide an opportunity for us to begin exploring the production of our own fuel, among other things, but it also marks the beginning of the reindustrialization of the South African economy.


Government is satisfied that the Technical Regulations have sufficiently addressed recommendations contained in the Investigation Report for hydraulic fracturing of 2012, as well as the Cabinet directive to augment the existing Regulations, and we believe, as Government, that we have acted in the best possible way, in the interests of the South African economy and its citizens, and we will continue to do so as we traverse this journey of hydraulic fracturing for the production of shale gas.


Thank you.

South African public starts to speak on shale gas regs

It would appear that the DMR authorised by the government will be getting much more of this:

From: David Lipschitz <>
Date: 16 October 2013 07:00
Subject: David Lipschitz’ comments on South African Government Gazette NOTICE 1032 OF 2013 in relation to Hydraulic Fracturing

The Director General: Mineral Resources Attention: Dr. Thibedi Ramontja
Dear Dr Ramontja
I look forward to your reply and comments.
Section 35, 3, b: “conduct operations in a manner that does not pose risk to public health, life, property and the environment”. I don’t see how this is possible! Perhaps the Minister (Ms Susan Shabangu, MP, Minister of Mineral Resources) can explain?
Section 38: “Protection of Water Resources: No well must be drilled within 1 kilometre of any wetland and the edge of the disturbed area of any well site must maintain a 500 metres setback from the boundary of the wetland.” I don’t see any provision for the Land Owner, eg not drilling within site of the owner’s home would be great; and not drilling within 1 kilometer of any water resource that the farmer or Land Owner might be using, including ponds. Also the underground “horizontal well” should not pass under this water! Why has this been ignored?
See example photo attached ( Would President Zuma be happy to have this 500 foot (165 meters) from his house in Nkandla?
I would also like every member of the cabinet at the time this bill is promulgated to sign a PERSONAL SURETY, JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY, in case anything goes wrong with any well that is not fixed by the miner, within 90 days after any leak or problem and for a period of 100 years from the time the well is sunk! Every private person starting a business or opening a business bank account in South Africa has to sign a surety with their bank and suppliers to ensure that if something goes wrong, the bank can attack the person’s personal assets. If the member of cabinet has a trust, then the cabinet minister should sign a surety of up to R50 million of the Trust or 50% of the Trust’s value, whichever is higher! Will this be done?
Please acknowledge receipt of this email.
Yours sincerely,
David Lipschitz
PO Box 1080

Documentary journalist and TKAG CEO warn medical students

The anti-fracking lobby continues to lash government plans to allow the controversial mining practice in the Karoo. Activists say that despite recent government regulations aimed at safeguarding communities and water supplies, the risk is just too great.

Hydraulic Fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and injected at high pressure into rock to create small fractures. These fractures then allow for the extraction of liquids like gas or petroleum.

The process is water-intensive, using up to 24 million litres of water per frack, according to Jolynn Minnaar, an independent journalist and fracking researcher. For every four million gallons of water used in fracking, up to 330 tons of chemicals are also injected into the ground. These chemicals, which include carcinogens and hydrochloric acid, contaminate both the water supply and air, said Minnaar during a recent talk at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“We also need to consider the natural elements found in the shale bedrock itself that return to the surface along with the original chemicals” said Minnaar, who recently directed the documentary film, “Unearthed,” about fracking-related contamination and public health consequences in the Untied States.

Among these naturally occurring elements are heavy metals and radioactive elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead and uranium.

Currently, there are more than 180 bans or moratoria on fracking worldwide.

Safeguarding South Africa’s scarce water?

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s announced on Monday that an intention to declare fracking a controlled activity in terms of South Africa’s Water Act.

“What this means is that fracking becomes a water use, thus requiring a water use license,” said Molewa during a Wednesday press briefing. “In this regard only matters concerning water resources will be of consideration when licenses are issued, including but not limited to the possible impact of substances and chemicals on the ground water resource.”

The public will now have 60 days in which to comment on the move.

Jonathan Deal, from the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), has accused government of rushing to pursue fracking’s socio-economic benefits– such as job creation and alternative energy sources – without considering the long-term environmental impacts.

“We are concerned that there is a lack of understanding in our government around the issues of shale gas mining,” Deal told Health-e. “We are concerned that in desperation to provide jobs, deal with the energy problems, and raise revenue for the country that our leaders are trying anything to show that they are doing a good job, to ensure their votes in the election next year.”

Deal added that there had been no public consultation around fracking and that task teams assigned to investigate fracking in South Africa has been working in secret.

“Fracking does not only scar the environment, it poses a real health threat to surrounding communities,” he stressed.  – Health-e News Service.