Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. This is the basis for fracking, and also the root of the problem in the Karoo.
As you may or may not know Karoo is a severely water stressed area and as mentioned above, fracking requires huge amounts of water in addition to which they also need to inject displacement and cracking chemicals deep into the earth to pressure the shale gas out. This represents an immense risk to the people of the Karoo as their long term water sources and thus viability would immediately come under stress. Logically speaking it boggles the mind as to how fracking in any form could be allowed in the region but this is really where the story begins.
Money and Corruption vs People
If you were to look at the concept of fracking as a title fight, you would have on your left hand side your typical international oil giants and their proxy local companies. On your right hand side you would have the people of the Karoo represented by a few people and organisations.
In theory the fight is already unbalanced as none of the parties in the Karoo carry the financial might of any of the oil giants. Yet to make matters worse it would seem as though the referee or in our example the government is already biased in favour of big oil. That’s right. Put another way the government has to skew the outcome of its decision making process in favour of big oil and away from section 24 of Act 108 of the constitution, which protects the public’s right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing. And why would they do this? Because the ruling party the ANC is a major shareholder in Shell who has been granted the exploration rights. In fact so blatant is this position that the ANC increased its stake in Shell up to 28% just before it the green light for exploration was granted.
Defending the weak
I would imagine that the ANC and their big oil buddies thought that it would be quite a simple matter to slide this through, after all they could simply disguise it under the job creation banner which isn’t true by the way). But sadly for them a few people decided to stand up and knock them down. Thus although all are not mentioned here, I would like to show you below (with links) who the unknown champions for this cause really are:
- Afriforum – Funders, drivers and all around heroes
- Deryk Light – Derek Light Attorneys and Conveyancers
- Jonathan Deal – Treasure Karoo Action Group
In the above interview Derek Light, a lawyer heading the legal opposition to fracking in the Karoo, brings important news about the horrific impacts of fracking in this ancient and fragile semi desert area. It also brings us news about the status of fracking applications in other provinces, where the farmers are desperately trying to prevent the permission being given, without the aid of a moratorium.
Derek paints a vivid but terrifying picture of what may become of up to 60% of South Africa’s landscape with drilling rigs for fracking every 5 kilometers in every direction in a patchwork quilt of degraded landscape crossed by 6 meter wide roads on the ground and contaminated by the chemicals used in fracking and imported sea water underground. Hundreds of thousands of truck loads of water would have to be brought in and contaminated water taken out, putting pressure on the roads and the authorities inability to monitor traffic.
The fact that fracking would bring only bring about 2 700 jobs of which only about 900 would be within the skill set of the current residents of the Karoo and yet would probably put an end to the ecologically friendly farming jobs which currently employ about 100 000 people. And all of this would be for about 3 – 7 years, the projected life of each well. Fracking is a pop and go industry, so it would be gone in 20 or so years leaving a completely desecrated landscape behind with compromised contaminated water.
And all of this would be done just to create inventory in the books of the company to improve the value on the stock market because gas extracted from shale is far too expensive to make profit especially when compared to natural gas, which is very cheap. Extraction of shale gas makes shale gas a far dirtier energy source than even coal.
Although there are rumours that government owns 25% of the profits, at the moment there won’t be much profit and normally most profits tend to go to the shareholders overseas rather than benefiting the people of the country the gas is found in.
The time they have gained by opposing the process has given the opportunity for solar and wind to demonstrate just how much faster and cheaper and environmentally non-damaging renewables are.
By Jason Sole. Source: Mother Channel