Gauteng and NW Province

Prospects of shale gas tantalizing

Recent remarks in Parliament suggest that the state is being lined up as a major player

Lynley Donelly

Is the state gearing up to go fracking? Following statements last week by Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters broadly supporting shale gas development, the state may well be planning to carve out a role for itself as a leader in the industry.

The potential of shale gas and other more conventional sources of gas to provide a local source for electricity and liquid fuel has drawn the government’s interest. The comments by Peters last week suggest the state is preparing to ensure that national energy firm PetroSA becomes a key instrument in the development of a shale gas industry.

The United States, although not without its own opponents to fracking, is an industry leader.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the injection of a mixture of chemicals and water into deep shale rock formations to extract gas trapped there. It is highly controversial, giving the impact it is believed to have on water resources and the environment.

Shell has applied for 90 000km2 in the Karoo.

Jonathan Deal, national coordinator of Treasure the Karoo Action Group, said the utterances of the government about shale gas were “far too premature” without a thorough cost-benefit analysis being completed.

Deal said the state had not made it clear that shale gas could take between 10 to 12 years to bear fruit. This contradicted the notion that it would provide a more affordable and cheaper stop-gap measure to meet South Africa’s power needs.

Deal also said the ANC stood to gain from the development of a shale gas industry. A report in the Sunday Times stated that the Batho Batho Trust, founded by the ANC veterans, held a 51% share in Thebe Investments, Shell’s empowerment partner in South Africa.

Extracts from Mail & Guardian Business
May 25 to 31 2012

“Unaware or unwilling; the result is the same”. That saying comes to mind when I read about fracking in the Karoo. It doesn’t matter HOW much gas you have, without water you don’t exist. It is that simple. It is our duty as human beings to conserve water.

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