A Texas petroleum exploration company with prospecting rights over huge chunks of KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of South Africa has begun its attempt to find gas and oil in the mountains near Matatiele.
Although the company insists that the latest exploration bid will not involve any fracking at this stage, agriculture and environmental watchdog groups fear that any discovery of large shale gas and methane reserves would inevitably trigger the use of risky and unconventional extraction methods such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Now hunting for oil in the sea off Cape Town!
Rhino Resources, which has offices in Texas, Cape Town and the British Virgin Islands, is negotiating to acquire oil and gas concessions in seven African countries.
Its local subsidiary company has already started the environmental authorisation process to hunt for oil in the sea off Cape Town, and more recently it launched a similar application to search for gas and oil on nearly 240 farms in the Eastern Cape, just south of the KZN border near Matatiele.
10 more rock core samples to be drilled
The company’s environmental consultants said the initial three-year exploration phase would involve “non-invasive techniques”, seismic surveys and drilling up to 10 rock core samples.
The parent company is headed by Dallas-based attorney and petroleum investor Patrick Mulligan. He is also a member of the Texas Oil and Gas Association and board member of a Louisiana fuel distributor.
The local subsidiary company, Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd, is headed by Phillip Steyn, who is responsible for “strategic land acquisition and high-level negotiations”.
It is not known whether the company has local empowerment partners. The Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme, which is working on a 20-year strategy to conserve water and natural sources along the length of the Umzimvubu River, is urging farmers and other groups to register as interested and affected parties in the gas exploration project.
Fracking and gas exporation incompatible with conservation plans
Project managers believe fracking and gas exploration in Matatiele is incompatible with plans to conserve the area as a “water factory”.
They note that the Umzimvubu is one of the last large, wild rivers in an area with one of the highest levels of rainfall in the country.
In a background document circulated earlier this month, Rhino’s environmental consultants said further environmental approvals and public meetings would be needed if the exploration detected viable gas reserves.
“Rhino maintains that it is not useful to speculate on the possible future direction of the project as the range of options is vast and the available information very limited.”
By Tony Carnie. Source: Business Report