Planning body punts shale gas exploration

2011-11-11 15:47

Pretoria - South Africa should allow exploratory drilling for gas while investigations into the effect on the environment continue, the National Planning Commission (NPC) said on Friday.

“If gas reserves are proven and environmental concerns alleviated, then development of these resources and gas-to-power projects will be fast-tracked,” according to the NPC's national development plan.

Exploratory drilling in areas like the Karoo should be allowed to determine whether there are economically viable shale gas reserves.

“Substituting gas for coal will help cut South Africa's carbon intensity and greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the plan.

Tapping methane gas trapped in coal seams, shale gas in the Karoo basin and importing liquefied natural gas should all be considered.

The NPC said according to the United States Energy Information Administration, technically recoverable shale gas resources in South Africa form the fifth-largest reserve globally.

“Shale gas has the potential to contribute a very large proportion of South Africa's electricity needs,” according to the plan.

Exploratory drilling for gas is a contentious issue. Royal Dutch Shell and other companies have applied to the department of mineral resources to explore for shale gas in the Karoo basin using the controversial mining technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".

Environmental groups claim it will harm the sensitive Karoo environment and poison underground water supplies.

Shell SA argues South Africa could become "energy self-sufficient" within a decade if commercially viable gas volumes are discovered in the Karoo. This would drive foreign investments, reduce carbon emissions, and create thousands of jobs.

In August, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu extended a moratorium on applications for licences to prospect for shale gas using fracking for a further six months. Her department set up a task team in April to investigate the impact of mining for shale gas in the Karoo.

The plan was handed to President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria on Friday for consideration.

The NPC is an advisory body. Only cabinet can decide whether to adopt its proposals and in what form.

  • Tanya - 2011-11-11 16:41

    Lets kill the earth first, then worry about it later. This is what they are saying right?

      toypirate - 2011-11-14 09:34

      Good idea Tanya, and as a bonus lets get another county's money grubbing corporate to do it AND well get nothing for giving up more of Africa's beauty except overestimated reserve figures and underestimated profits, all in the name of energy. why not put up wind farms or solar farms, its the driest sunnyest place in South Africa and its all free! Shell and BP and the other big oils should be pushed out lets support SASOL a wholey South African company that uses coal.

  • kidblack - 2011-11-11 17:09

    lets all eat this rotten meat while we investigate if it will kill us.

  • Judith - 2011-11-11 17:57

    No No No m- please lets expose these dinosaurs for what they are! Killers of communities!

  • aman - 2011-11-11 18:04

    Wow Shell's concern for our well being is overwhelming, almost unbelievable.

  • damon.leff - 2011-11-11 18:42

    Clearly the NPA do not know what they are doing. They are choosing to ignore the obvious and existing evidence that fracking is environmentally hazardous, to wit... Fracking blamed for UK quake - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 02, 2011 A controversial “fracking” technique to extract gas from the ground was the “highly probable” cause of earth tremors which hit Britain’s Fylde coast in Lancashire earlier this year, a report concluded today. One tremor of magnitude 2.3 on the Richter scale hit the area on April 1st followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on May 27th, prompting locals and environmental campaigners to blame the fracking technique being used locally by oil and gas firm Cuadrilla." and... Scientific Study Links Flammable Drinking Water to Fracking - ProPublica For the first time, a peer-reviewed scientific study has linked natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with a pattern of drinking water contamination so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire. The NPA is telling South Africans the probable environmental degradation (including possible earthquakes) is worth it. It's about time we told the NPA where they can shove their recommendation !

  • johannwilhelm.grobler - 2011-11-11 19:00

    The country is already 90% down the tube and actions like this will only take us further into the mess that is our future. Please come to your senses!!! Look at the Vaal river system that I used to name Vali Moosas sewerage system!

  • Karl Lai Lam - 2011-11-11 19:25

    It was clear at various meetings held in the Eastern Cape that Shell has very little to offer the local communities should "fracking" take place. This is true for both exploratory efforts and fully operational sites. Answers given by Shell were nothing more than vague potentialities, alluding to bursary schemes our unemployed would inevitably not qualify for, and "guarantees" for which there would be no contractual obligation on Shell's part, were readily given to farmers, assuring them that South Africa's future is in good hands. Mutually beneficial relationships are always welcome, but this parasitic partnership with "fracking" is not.

  • Kaliel - 2011-11-11 23:57

    SA has 50 million people and the Western Cape only has 3.8 million of them. I say frack the Karoo and secede from the rest of this country of idiots. That way we will have the energy and the rest of the natural resources to keep this tiny island of hope going on a continent of failure. let the rest of SA burn, they deserve it!

      Martin - 2011-11-12 09:51

      i say we drill and explore along all sources of fresh water in and around the african homelands and townships, see how you like that.... man we only have one south africa, look at what these companies do, drain you and run when the products done.. i have not filled up with shells demon fuel for over a year now.

      lesanreid - 2011-11-12 13:00

      Frack you too.

      sadikari - 2011-11-13 22:04

      Licences have been applied for in the Karoo,Free State,Drakensberg and Mpumalanga. So it will affect anybody that drinks water,eats lamb, bread,pap or fruit/veg that is irrigated with river water. The Mpumalanga area will affect the quality of Joburg's water. So we can run but there's nowhere to hide.

  • Marc - 2011-11-12 06:45

    sHELL"...we'll become energy self sufficient"!?? (and make a quick buck for us and the ANC) till the gas runs out and then what, a toxic wasteland....the National Plundering Calamity is clearly thinking in the pocket of vested interests.

  • sadikari - 2011-11-13 22:12

    It recently came to light that the US ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION grossly overestimated the shale gas reserves in the US by 80% and there figures are not used in the US anymore. Instead the American Geology Society have taken over the matter. So we should take their estimates with a pinch of salt. SHELL's interest in South Africa's shale gas is because of the massive profits they hope to make by exporting it to other countries. Shell's home country,the Netherlands, has just slapped a moratorium onto fracking and in neighbouring France,fracking is now against the law.

  • Keith - 2012-05-18 14:38

    How are the Environmental Concerns going to be alleviated? Fracking in the Karoo is something totally new; if it causes problems who is going to fix them and will they be capable of being fixed? I agree with Tanya, lets leave this Earth & find another one to ruin.

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