Experts criticise start of fracking
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s announcement last week that the government has decided to proceed with shale gas extraction in the Karoo has been slammed by industry experts on the basis of its negative consequences for the environment and the region’s water supply.
Five applications for fracking licences have been submitted so far by Shell (3), Falcon Oil and Gas and Bundu Gas and Oil Exploration.
"There simply is not enough water in the Karoo for the purpose of fracking as well as agriculture and human consumption.
The decision to approve fracking comes at a time when the Western Cape is dealing with water restrictions," Hellyer said.
Wim Jonker Klunne, who is on the advisory board for Energy Revolution Africa, which will form part of the African Utility Week conference in May, noted that while gas might be a viable option for South Africa’s energy mix, "I see too many issues around shale gas from the Karoo to justify its exploration.
The impact on local livelihoods and available water will not justify the exploration of shale gas, particularly as many other (renewable) options are available."
In his speech Zwane gave the assurance that the government was committed to developing shale gas "in a manner that is considerate of the country’s water resources and environmental sustainability".
He said the decision to proceed with the development of shale gas in the Karoo was based on the balance of available scientific evidence.
"The finalisation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act amendments will also help to expedite the development of shale gas.
He estimated the recoverable resource of shale gas at up to 50-trillion cubic feet in the Karoo basin especially in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces.