Cabinet endorses fracking moratorium

Cabinet endorses fracking moratorium

2011-04-21 14:18

Cape Town - The cabinet has endorsed the decision by the mineral resources department to invoke a moratorium on licences in the Karoo Basin where "fracking" is proposed.

"Fracking" is hydraulic fracturing, a technique for extracting shale gas from deep underground by pumping a pressurised mixture of water, sand and chemicals down drill holes.

The department would lead a multi-disciplinary team, including the trade and industry and science and technology departments, to research the full implications of the proposed fracking, government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi told a media briefing following cabinet's regular fortnightly meeting.

"Cabinet has made it very clear that (a) clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised," he said.

On Wednesday, it emerged that there was little chance that oil giant Shell's plans to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo using the "fracking" method would have an impact on South Africa's bid to host the square kilometre array (SKA) radio telescope.

In written reply to a question in the National Council of Provinces, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said an application for prospecting had no impact on South Africa's bid to host the SKA.

"An application can only have impact if granted," she said.

"If the Shell application is granted, and if Shell uses communication systems with frequency ranges that interfere with radio telescope operations, the prospecting will affect radio astronomy."

However, the South African SKA project office (SASPO) had proactively met with Shell and Golder Associates to indicate communications restrictions.

"All operations in the Karoo will be comprehensively addressed through regulations under the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act 2007, which are expected to be finalised in the 2012/13 financial year, following consideration of the outcomes of the public consultations on the astronomy regulations," Pandor said.

The act gives the sole right to regulate the zone in which the SKA will operate to the minister of science and technology.

South Africa and Australia were shortlisted in 2006 as locations for the SKA project.

The SKA will cost about €2bn to build, and require between €150m and €200m a year, for 50 years, to maintain and operate.

An announcement on who has won the bid will be made early next year.

The endorsement was welcomed by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

"Cabinet clearly realised what other countries have realised - the issue of fracking is too complex to be decided on by one single authority or one single department."

A multi-disciplinary team should look at an issue of this magnitude.

"From our side, we will now make sure we cooperate with and give all the assistance we can to government as they make sure that every aspect of the environmental impact assessment is taken care of," TKAG said.   

  • willieman - 2011-04-21 14:32

    Haaa!!!another "arms deal" Shell has no good record in Africa ask the Nigerians.What happend to Ken Saro Wiwa

  • daaivark - 2011-04-21 14:34

    YES!!! Now stick to your guns.

  • Brent - 2011-04-21 14:35

    Ah and there I thought the reporter was watching to much battlestar galactica lately!

      yebocan - 2011-04-21 14:56

      LOL , i thought the same thing....fracking toasters!

  • - 2011-04-21 14:39

    A sensible approach. Excellent. I hope they get good information on this. Canada seem to have had a bad experience and have banned it. Maybe that's a good place to start.

  • eJay - 2011-04-21 14:49

    Yay, karoo 1 shell 0 (for now)

  • jakkals - 2011-04-21 14:50

    "Cabinet clearly realised what other countries have realised - the issue of fracking is too complex to be decided on by one single authority or one single department." Beautiful, yet it will be decided by the one single person who will receive some "convincing" in the form of a few dollars.

  • Craig - 2011-04-21 14:51

    The best thing Cabinet has done this year !!! at last they have come to the party and listened to the people ......

  • Fracker - 2011-04-21 14:59

    The correct sum of cash will swop hands and a licence will suddenly be issued.

  • Justin.D.Glenn - 2011-04-21 15:10

    "Cabinet has made it very clear that (a) clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised," This is a joke we just need to see what has happened in USA as an example of what will happen here.

  • Yasr - 2011-04-21 15:12

    "no impact on South Africa's bid to host the SKA?" This is the concern? Sleight of hand if I have ever seen one. Though the plus side is two fold. BHP can keep their smelter because we will be able to cook with a lighter and a tap. And the ANCYL will not have to liberate farmland, it will be so useless once all groundwater is ether and benzine based.

  • Martin - 2011-04-21 15:24

    a few palms will be greased and the karoo will be fracked. case closed. and of course 4 different departments will be investigating the whole thing...another excuse for them to fill their personal coffers. and australia will win the bid...hands down considering the poiltical fragility in this country

  • Benzo - 2011-04-21 15:29

    @jimbean: France and Germany have also banned it. And others in EU to follow. Don't know how much Shell is willing to shove under the table as a convincing argument. where there is hope, there is life. Naledi's classic pearl of wisdom: "An application can only have impact if granted," she said.

  • PikeLee - 2011-04-21 15:29 Why does our govt allow fracking????

  • Yasr - 2011-04-21 15:35

    It is a very bad process. at least people will be able to cook using only a lighter and a tap.

  • Patrick D - 2011-04-21 15:56

    hell want to frack in ZA cause they are about to be shutdown in the US:

  • Mikeas - 2011-04-21 18:35

    I, and many of my friends, refuse to fill up with Shell. I have also instructed all my reps that if I see that they have used their fuel card at a Shell station, they will have to explain why. My next step is to print bumper stickers with the following on them: THIS CAR WILL NEVER RUN ON SHELL PETROL Frack off Shell!

      barkers - 2011-04-26 10:17

      Where can we buy your bumper stickers??? FAB IDEA

  • mmmmTim - 2011-04-21 19:53

    Well done the cabinet - just in time as there has been a major 'fracking' spill in the US today. Fracking Blowout Causes Massive Spill in Pennsylvania Wednesday 20 April 2011 by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout Thousands of gallons of potentially toxic hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," liquids spilled across pastures and into a stream in rural Pennsylvania early this morning, after a natural gas well suffered a blowout at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday night. Francis Roupp, a deputy director of the Bradford County emergency services, said "many thousands" of gallons of fracturing liquids were released after a blowout near the well head. Roupp was unsure how much liquid was released, but he said it is possible that hundreds of thousands of gallons could have been released and have spilled across acres of pasture and into a small tributary to a local river. Seven families were evacuated from the area and no injuries or release of gas into the atmosphere have been reported, according to local newspaper The Morning Call. State and local officials are coordinating with well operator Chesapeake Energy to deal with the spill. Roupp said it is Chesapeake Energy's "problem" and they are being held responsible for dealing with it. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is monitoring the water and has found a high salt content, Roupp said. A DEP spokesperson could not be reached for comment. A blowout in a Pennsylvania fracking well last June was found to be potentially "catastrophic" by state officials because of the large amount of liquid and natural gas that was released after a "blowout preventer" in the well failed. A report recently released by Democrats in Congress shows that between 2005 and 2009, top fracking companies used fracking liquids containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible carcinogens. Components of fracking liquids, long kept secret by the industry, ranged from harmless substances like salt to dangerous pollutants like methanol, lead and benzene.

  • Redwine - 2011-04-25 10:50

    I find it strange that we are making all this noise about the Karoo you Valies only see as one huge burden when visiting Cape Town. The entire population and ground water reserves is but a fraction (pun?)of that of Gauteng yet you all co exist very snugly with all problems like acid water etc. Are we not a touch hypocritical here. Why are you not boycotting all the shoddy industry you have right there under your front lawn?

  • peterH - 2011-05-11 07:42

    "Cabinet clearly realised what other countries have realised - the issue of fracking is too complex to be.." , not really, hydraulic fracking has been used in Canada for over 30 years already (and is old technology). Propane, CO2 fracking can be considered "new" technology. The whole issue will come down to money.

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