Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shell consultant says the Karoo economy will not survive Gas Mining


Cape Town, South Africa, March 11th, 2011

Shell consultant says the Karoo economy will not survive Gas Mining

This was stated by Mr. Fred Kruger, a systems ecologist and policy analyst representing Golder Associates, the environmental consultants appointed by Shell Oil. The statement emerged during a meeting between Golder and a delegation led by Jonathan Deal, coordinator of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), during which Mr. Kruger agreed with a question put to him – ‘can the Karoo economy survive fracking’ - and confirmed “The Karoo economy will not survive gas mining.”

The meeting was requested by Golder as part of a nationwide campaign to canvass interested and affected parties who are in opposition to the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). It was suggested by TKAG that the sheer scale of the applications by mining companies to frack for shale gas in the Karoo (90 000 square kilometers for Shell alone) significantly undermined at least three important government processes that are as of now not completed. These are:

  • The spatial planning framework being established by the National Planning Commission;
  • The updating of the National Water Resources Strategy which is currently underway;
  • The Green Paper on Rural Development which is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the second half of 2011.

TKAG strongly believes that no decision about onshore exploration can be made without these important processes and others are completed.

Deal remarked that “assurances by Shell in its draft EMP that it would compensate farmers and landowners for losses incurred are spurious - it is common knowledge that any claim of this nature must be proven in the high court by a landowner fighting a giant corporation. The mining companies know this and can safely make this ridiculous claim. Does Shell have any suggestions for a farmer, whose land value plummets or whose water is poisoned as a result of gas mining, in terms of how he will be able to support his family and workforce? And what about the farmworkers? Will they be compensated for livelihoods and homes lost?”

When asked about Shell’s confidence in fracking the Karoo, despite mounting evidence of water and environmental poisoning as a result of fracking in North America, the Golder representatives were unable to say why Shell should be trusted to safely apply this technology here or what expertise Shell could claim that was better than leading drilling companies in the United States. It should be abundantly clear to Petroleum Agency South Africa that this technology and Shell’s applications should not be considered in even the vaguest terms until the scientific and environmental community can agree on some fundamental issues:

  • Determine the comprehensive carbon footprint of fracking in the Karoo before making false claims, as Shell has, that shale gas has a lower carbon emission than other fossil fuels.
  • Is it in the interests of South Africa to destroy the Karoo for a resource that will last, according to the most optimistic estimates, for 15 years?
  • Why can this process be handled here with no risk (according to Shell), when it is causing such damage in the US?
  • Who would compensate members of the Karoo community who would lose their jobs?
  • Is it possible to reverse the enormous damage to water resources, land, plant habitat and fauna that the Karoo will suffer?

In closing, Deal suggested that persons wishing to see what a fracked landscape looks like, should visit “That is the side of fracking that Shell doesn’t want you to see.”


·         About TKAG – Treasure the Karoo Action group is the coordinating body, representing 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 at the web address <>

·  FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Jonathan Deal 
and telephone 076-838-5150  and 023 358 9902.
Please quote ref: TKAG003/3/11


1 comment:

  1. keep up the good work people! the karoo is a national treasure and should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the expense of human lives (and kid yourself not, that IS what's at stake here)!!! Go TKAG!