Last update:
2015-02-11

Hydraulic fracking in the Karoo, South Africa


Description:

Various oil and gas companies (such as Shell, Bundu, Falcon, Anglo) have applied for licenses to explore for shale gas in the Greater Karoo Basin (spanning from the Western Cape to KZN), with the intention of producing natural gas using the controversial method of horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Local farming communities (and South African citizens at large) are concerned about the possible water and air contamination, surface disruption, threats to existing economies (agriculture, tourism) and human and animal health. The carbon footprint of shale gas development and its contribution to climate change is also a concern. It is a contentious issue because shale gas is competing with viable alternatives for energy production, using renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are possible in the area.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hydraulic fracking in the Karoo, South Africa
Country:South Africa
State or province:Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape
Location of conflict:Greater Karoo Basin
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The International Energy Agency claims that there are 485 trillion cubic feet of shale gas beneath the surface in South Africa. This may be a wild overestimate, but has acted as a stimulus to certain oil companies to apply for exploration rights.

See more
Project area:29,000,000
Level of Investment:200 million (Shells potential investment alone)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:40,000,000
Start of the conflict:12/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Falcon Oil and Gas
Bundu Gas and Oil from Australia
Anglo American from United Kingdom
Statoil from Norway
Chesapeake Energy
Sasol from South Africa
Relevant government actors:Department of Mineral Affairs , Department of Energy, Department of Water Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Health, Department of Tourism, Provincial government, District and local municipalities, PASA , Department of Mineral Affairs
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Derek Light (attorney based in Graaff-Reinet, representing over 300 landowners and communities), TKAG (Treasure the Karoo Action Group; Jonathan Deal), Fractual (Ian Perrin), Earthlife Africa (Muna Lakhani), WWF (Saliem Fakir), WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of SA), CJN!SA network, Centre for Environmental Rights, Western Cape Wildlife and Environment Society, Southern Cape Land Committee, Agri-SA (commercial farmers lobby)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Social Media (facebook, twitter)
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsThe above environmental imapcts have been documented in areas where hydraulic fracturing is currently being used.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsHuman and animal health impacts from exposure to known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, VOCs, and other undisclosed chemicals.
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsSocio-economic impacts listed above have been documented in affected communities in the USA during a shale gas boom.
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Moratoria
Development of alternatives:Proposals for shale gas development using hydraulic fracturing, directly compete with the possibility of renewable technologies in the Karoo, which is eminently suited for wind and solar energy generation, and which could also create many local jobs.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The applications to explore for shale gas in the Karoo were placed under a
temporary moratorium endorsed by Cabinet in April 2011. This moratorium
was renewed for a further six months in Sept 2011. In Feb 2012 the
moratorium was extended again, with a decision expected in July 2012.
http://www.businesslive.co.za/southafrica/2012/03/13/cabinet-to-get-fracking-report-soon-shabangu
http://www.businesslive.co.za/southafrica/sa_markets/2012/05/10/cabinet-to-get-fracking-report-in-july
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

National Environmental Management Act
[click to view]

Integrated Resource Plan 2010 documentation
[click to view]

WHITE PAPER

ON RENEWABLE ENERGY
[click to view]

NATIONAL NUCLEAR

REGULATOR ACT
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

WWF Position paper on Fracking:
[click to view]

WWF Response to Econometrix study:
[click to view]

Dr Chris Hartnadys presentation at Cape Town shale gas conference:
[click to view]

Fig, D. 2010. Nuclear Power Rethink? The Rise and Demise of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. Pretoria: Institute of Strategic Studies.

Greenpeace Africa. 2011. The True Cost of Nuclear Energy in South Africa. Johannesburg: Greenpeace.

Hallowes D. 2011. Toxic futures. Pietermaritzburg: UKZN Press.

Teaching Screens. 2008. Uranium Road (54-minute documentary).

Fig, D. 2007. Uranium Road: Questioning South Africas Nuclear Direction. Johannesburg: Jacana.

Royal Dutch Shell - A Critical Review of the Application for a Karoo Gas Exploration Right
[click to view]

Response to Golder's Draft Environmental Management Plan South Western Karoo Basin Gas Exploration CENTRAL PRECINCT Shell Exploration Company B.V. - PASA Reference Number 12/3/220 April 2011
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Fracking protests
[click to view]

Photos: STOP FRACKING IN THE KAROO
[click to view]

Unearthed the documentary
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Marina Louw, Jolynn Minnaar
Last update11/02/2015
Comments
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.