Thursday, February 17, 2011

Press Release TKAG002/2/11 - PASA ‘clarification over fracking moratorium’ draws criticism

Cape Town, South Africa, February 17 2011
PASA ‘clarification over fracking moratorium’ draws criticism

Responding to an article which appeared Cape Business News on February 15th a spokesperson for Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) stated that they were surprised and dismayed to learn of the statements by Mthozami Xiphu, the CEO of the Petroleum Agency of SA (PASA).

 Media announcements earlier this month stating that PASA had placed a moratorium on all new applications were greeted with a sense of relief by a broad range of stakeholders concerned about the plans of mining and exploration groups in the Karoo basin. Now it appears that PASA is encouraging further applications for exploration and mining rights to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin, using the highly controversial fracking process.

 Mr. Xiphu’s clarification that PASA had not placed the moratorium in response to a call by the DA “has the effect of making a political football of an issue of national importance that transcends the aims of any political party”, said Jonathan Deal of Treasure the Karoo Action Group. He added that that the notion of hydraulic fracturing in South Africa’s Karoo basin can be unnecessarily complicated and thus presented as an extremely complex topic.
“It’s shrouded in scientific mystery, wrapped in politics and set against the backdrop of oil company profits and stakeholder concerns. But it can be addressed as a simple issue at this early stage by considering a few questions.”
These are:

1.             Has PASA studied the contemporary scientific data produced in the United Kingdom and the United States which addresses the practice of hydraulic fracturing?

2.             Has PASA any responsibility towards the South African public for awarding exploration and mining permits for an activity that is banned in at least 160 US locations and which is the subject of a moratorium in NY State?

3.             Is PASA prepared to wait until the outcome of an ongoing congressional investigation surrounding fracking in the US, due to be completed in 2012?

4.             Has PASA taken any advice from the local scientific community, including its own scientists and engineers on the merits and results of fracking a water-scarce area of delicate biodiversity such as the Karoo?

5.             Is PASA in a position to call on all current and future applicants wishing to apply fracking to present a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) together with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) on the basis that the applicants cannot effectively predict how they will manage a process that has not been evaluated in this country?

6.             TKAG appreciates that PASA’s objective is to exploit mineral resources in South Africa. Is it PASA’s understanding that this brief means that minerals can be exploited irrespective of the cost to country and community?

7.             Does PASA endorse the scientific principle of a ‘cautionary approach’ in the absence of strong supporting data?

8.             Is PASA prepared to make a formal statement with regard to these questions and the issue of fracking technology in general?

TKAG called on Mr. Xiphu to respond to these questions on behalf of PASA as a matter of urgency.
About TKAG – Treasure the Karoo Action group is emerging as the co-ordinating body representative of a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of Oil and Mining companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and soon at the web address
·         FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact Jonathan Deal on or 023 358 9902 /  076-838-5150. Please quote ref: TKAG002/2/11

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