South African’s have yet to become better informed about it....”fracking”. It burst onto the scene this year when the South African government halted plans for drilling for gas in the Karoo by oil company Shell. A moratorium was imposed on fracking allowing the government to better understand the environmental consequences it will have. In the meantime prospecting taking place in other parts of the country, including the Drakensberg has had less media coverage. Should we be surprised?

"Barkly East conservationist Kate Nelson, who runs a local guest farm and adventure company, said that while many people knew of the active anti-fracking campaign being run in respect of shale gas prospecting applications there, few were aware that large parts of the Free State, Eastern Cape Highlands and KwaZulu-Natal were under a similar threat. Prospecting permits had been granted to Anglo Coal and to a three-company consortium consisting of Sasol and foreign energy giants Statoil and Chesapeake Energy, covering an 88 000km2 tract of land right around Lesotho – including the central and southern Drakensberg regions of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Free State and the Eastern Cape Highlands.

The consortium, granted a one-year technical co-operation permit in November last year, was involved in a desktop exploration study which did not involve any drilling at this stage, Nelson said. Nevertheless, it is a situation that local residents need to monitor closely. The exploration permits had been granted despite the Drakensberg being one of the country’s top tourist attractions and a proclaimed World Heritage Site." Drakensberg and surrounds face fracking threat too

"Mthozami Xiphu, chief executive of Petroleum Agency SA, confirmed that Sasol, Statoil and Chesapeake were granted a one year technical co-operation permit in November in KZN, and were involved in a desktop exploration study which did not involve any drilling at this stage. Sasol spokeswoman Nothemba Noruwana said the oil giant hoped to complete its exploration study by the end of the year — but refused to say how it would extract the gas. Asked whether the company would frack the area,Noruwana said: 'It is early days and I don’t want to speculate on what we will or will not do.' However, mining experts say shale-gas mining is generally only possible using intensive methods such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). To crack the shale and extract the gas, large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected into the ground under pressure." Now KZN faces threat of fracking

 

According to Wikipedia, "hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking,  fracing or hydrofracking, is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, by means of a pressurized fluid, in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction. The fracturing, known colloquially as a frack job (or frac job), is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fluid, such as water, creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of fossil fuels."

It seems comprehensive studies on the effects of fracking on the environment and on human health are lacking. The negative impacts, based on reports in the USA, are said to be:
1.    Water pollution – both the contamination of the ground water, and the large quantities of chemically contaminated water used in the process, which are returned to the surface. This is particularly concerning considering the value of water in a dry country such as South Africa, and considering that the Drakensberg is a significant source for the country.
2.    Ill health, due to the chemicals, of those near the sites.
3.    Soil pollution and erosion
4.    Domestic animals and pets near the sites have also been known to suffer ill health, reproductive problems etc
5.    Air pollution – from escaping methane in the layers and heavy traffic of the trucks needed in the operation.
6.    Water wastage, as significant quantities are needed in the process. Again, particularly concerning in a country where water is scarce.
7.    Earthquakes as a result of the geological layers becoming unstable.
Adapted from Drakensberg also under threat of fracking

 

Furthermore, "innovations in machinery and uses of various chemicals have also assisted in the liberation of viable quantities of gas from the rock. Shale gas extraction companies have been reluctant to disclose the chemicals used and have constantly downplayed any associated danger. Perhaps the most comprehensive list of these chemicals has been compiled by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). TEDX has compiled a list of nearly 1000 chemicals, together with referenced studies on their impacts. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer causing), hormone disruptors, mutagens (gene disruptors) or simply toxic to various organs or to the ecology. Others are secret or proprietary mixtures whose components are not disclosed or chemicals whose impacts have not been investigated or published at all. Shell has pledged to use ‘green chemistry’ and to provide full disclosure of all chemicals it proposes to use. In fact, Shell has launched a concerted public relations offensive to support its application to frack the Karoo. However, even ostensibly respectable corporations like Shell have poor historical track records and their role of exploitation and environmental catastrophe in Nigeria is particularly damning."

And of course, "South Africa has extensive problems with inadequate regulatory oversight, especially regarding extractive industries. Our record of managing acid mine drainage, both from old gold mines and more modern coalmines has been tardy and inadequate. Conflicts between Ministries like Minerals and Energy and Environment regarding environmental planning and oversight of extractive industries remain largely unresolved. Budgetary and personnel constraints exacerbate these concerns.  While there is extensive and increasingly vocal public concern about the risks of fracking in the Karoo, the public levels of expertise, resourcing and mandates to manage these risks remain open to question." Fracking up the Karoo

 

To make matters worse, “while only 23% of metro adults in South Africa are in favour of Shell (oil company) being allowed to conduct fracking in the Karoo, only 31% are against it. The other 46% appeared not to know what fracking was or did not have an opinion, as they gave a "don’t know" response. The issue of fracking is not well known with around half of people having no opinion on the subject." Fracking not understood, supported in SA

Vertical Endeavour is committed to help spread a proper awareness of fracking and what it’s effects will be, particularly as it concerns the Maloti-Drakensberg region. The developments will have to be monitored. We encourage everyone to better educate themselves about it, and where necessary to become involved in a public movement to protect our natural heritage, particularly the Drakensberg mountains. Stay tuned.

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Sterkhorn's Avatar
Sterkhorn replied to: #67320 13 Mar 2016 13:38
An interesting bit of information....

It took five years for the government to say, “Wait a minute, let’s ask the experts.”
This week, the strategic environmental assessment for shale gas development in South Africa released the first chapter of its report. There will be a number of others, dealing with different aspects of shale gas exploration, such as water, infrastructure, among 10 other aspects. This report aims to give a common ground for discussion: what will the future look like in each fracking scenario? To date, there has been no collective understanding of what fracking means to South Africa.
The report lays out four scenarios

Mapping the future of fracking
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #67308 10 Mar 2016 20:39

A senior government official has spoken out strongly about the high risks of water pollution from gas fracking in one of the driest countries in the world.

Namisha Muthraparsad, acting deputy director for water use in the national Department of Water and Sanitation, warned yesterday that South Africa, as the 30th-driest country in the world, could not allow petroleum companies to pump contaminated water back underground during the gas fracking process.

“It is too risky, there are too many uncertainties, so we will not allow underground disposal of wastewater and other water produced in the fracking process,” Muthraparsad told a seminar on fracking and unconventional gas production at Cedara agricultural college near Pietermaritzburg.

She stressed that her department was neither for nor against hydraulic fracturing, a technology developed in the US to release natural gases such as methane by fracturing (fracking) deep underground rock formations using a combination of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.

However, as the government regulator charged with ensuring wise use and protection of South Africa’s dwindling water resources, her department was already saddled with the legacy of underground water pollution from other mining industries.

Because of the shortage of clean surface water in rivers, dams and lakes, it was becoming more essential to protect underground water resources from further contamination. Noting that fracking often involved “mini-explosions” as deep as 5km underground, Muthraparsad said unconventional gas recovery processes led to the release of large volumes of saline water which could be contaminated with radioactive minerals and potentially toxic fracking fluids.

www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/official-warns-of-fracking-pollution-1995553
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #67297 09 Mar 2016 19:25

Pietermaritzburg - With fracking applications for KwaZulu-Natal already being received, researchers have said that fracking would not be viable in South Africa for another 20 to 30 years.

Last month, Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa announced its intention to explore 3,5 million hectares of land in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, affecting areas such as Ulundi, Melmoth, Pongola, Newcastle and Vryheid.

In addition, the company, which is also currently seeking rights to explore sites in the Free State and Eastern Cape, has lodged an application to explore two sites in Pietermaritzburg and its surrounds.

In total, the company is seeking rights to explore almost 7,4 million hectares in South Africa, of which more than half is in KZN.

www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/fracking-not-viable-for-now-20160308
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #67287 08 Mar 2016 18:48
News24 just posted this:
www.fin24.com/Economy/karoo-fracking-to-begin-in-12-months-govt-20160308

Some quotes that seem fitting:

Herman E. Daly wrote: There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation.

Herman E. Daly wrote: The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.

Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #67272 04 Mar 2016 21:22
Hi Karl..... the link you put on for Gasland 2 has been disconnected, however Gasland 1 can watched on You Tube ...

It is extremely disturbing what FRACKING does to the environment and every person has the right in SA to stand up against it and say NO!!!!!! We surely do not want to follow the same path as the USA or other countries have. This FRACKING has disastrous consequences on the environment and every normal and sane South African must stand up against it before its too late!!!!
Serious tribe's Avatar
Serious tribe replied to: #67260 03 Mar 2016 08:24
Take 1 hour and forty minutes to watch this documentary, if time and bandwidth allows, it is well worth it! It is called Gasland.

www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/17395779888

You might also have new appreciation for the banjo.

He also has a website on which the 2013 Gasland 2 can be found. Note the frac map...South Africa is lit up in red.

www.gaslandthemovie.com
Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #67215 26 Feb 2016 06:32
This is a huge world wide problem and I reckon these destroyers will not get their way as the conservation minded public out number those ignorant and greedy government officials!!!
www.change.org/p/all-fracking-all-around-australia-is-to-cease-and-mining-entities-held-accountable?recruiter=161045394&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_page&utm_term=mob-xs-share_petition-no_msg
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #67213 25 Feb 2016 23:52

First fracking licences to be issued this year, Parliament told
24 FEB 2016
Cape Town - The first licences for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, should be issued this year, an official from the department of mineral resources said in Parliament on Wednesday.

www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-02-24-first-fracking-licences-to-be-issued-this-year-parliament-told/#.Vs8yiJwrI7Z
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #65986 27 Nov 2015 19:08
Not sure how much of this is true, but, we all deserve to know, and must know, more about the company in question:
www.fin24.com/Economy/gas-firm-deal-fishy-20151127
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #65813 18 Nov 2015 19:13

Durban - The hunt for gas and oil in a massive strip of KwaZulu-Natal is likely to be scaled down considerably after a major public backlash and threats to take a Texas exploration company to court.

The local subsidiary of Texas-based Rhino Resources has applied for environmental authorisation to search for petroleum on almost 10 000 farms in the Midlands - an area covering more than 16% of the province’s surface area.

However, after a series of heated public meetings in several towns last month, Rhino consultants were cautioned that they faced court action because of potential contraventions of the new “fracking regulations” that ban any drilling or hydraulic fracturing in areas where this could pollute rivers, boreholes and wetlands.

beta.iol.co.za/business/news/drilling-prohibited-in-most-of-kzn-1946388

South Africans standing up for themselves and fighting for what is theirs: that is what I think of as "proudly South African". Fracking, Ibutho coal mine at Umfolozi, Drakensberg cable car proposal, eTolls....let us not give up.
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #65771 12 Nov 2015 20:48
Interesting parallels with the cableway proposal in that video: ignorance as to who the chief/Inkosi of the area is, ambiguity around the EIA, most locals object due to environmental and social impact...
Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #65770 12 Nov 2015 20:35
And the people have spoken out a strong NO!!!!!
Sterkhorn's Avatar
Sterkhorn replied to: #65768 12 Nov 2015 16:11
Another article i.r.o. the meetings recently held in the KZN Midlands:
Picket at fracking meet
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #65748 10 Nov 2015 18:55
Website and FB page of the SAFE Alliance which is opposing fracking in KZN:
frackfreesa.weebly.com/
www.facebook.com/frackfreesa/
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #65680 06 Nov 2015 07:50
There is a list of the main chemical used in fracking at this link .

I am no chemist and won't pretend to know what Quaternary Ammonium Chloride does to the environment, but everyone knows Sodium Chloride (table salt), which is used in fracking. When the Romans took Carthage they plowed salt into the sand to stop crops from growing there in future. They say the rich irrigated fields of Mesopotamia became infertile due to the salt content of the rivers used to irrigate the fields building up over time. Seems logical to voluntarily pump salt into our country's main farming land.

Out of interest - anyone know where they plan on moving KZN's food production to when they close many of KZN's farms to do fracking?
Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #65672 05 Nov 2015 20:29
Copied from the internet....frightning!! "So we were flying over Colorado, New Mexico and western Texas and saw all these stripped-land rectangular shapes with water reservoirs on or near them. This went on for HUNDREDS OF MILES. When I got home and searched on the Internet to find out what they were, I was horrified to find out that these are thousands of fracking sites. THOUSANDS!!
boy, I sure got an education today just by looking down. It turns out that these rectangular shaped water reservoirs are the contaminated pools of water from the chemicals used to frack" And they plan to do this in KZN !!!!!!
Papa Dragon's Avatar
Papa Dragon replied to: #65655 04 Nov 2015 19:36
Biomech's Avatar
Biomech replied to: #65635 04 Nov 2015 08:05
Thanks for the articles. I think the points made about transport networks and waste management/enforcement record in SA add a new dimension to the debate.
Sterkhorn's Avatar
Sterkhorn replied to: #65632 04 Nov 2015 00:08
An opinion piece on Fracking and a report about the Ashburton meeting:
To frack or not to frack?
Firm ‘no’ to fracking in KZN
Papa Dragon's Avatar
Papa Dragon replied to: #65627 03 Nov 2015 21:48
A very worthwhile protest, thanks!!!
Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #65626 03 Nov 2015 21:31
One of the biggest land invasions ever in the KZN Midlands by Rhino Oil & Gas Explorations came to heads with the local community at a Lions River Polo Club (Dargle) meeting today. The community strongly voiced their opinions and concerns and basically told this company to leave as they were not welcome. I was there to capture some images of people with an incredible passion for the protection of our environment and future for their children. Thanks to all the VE members that signed the petition. You can view some photos at... goo.gl/photos/WcyVtx9C68frY4ok7
saros's Avatar
saros replied to: #65553 28 Oct 2015 14:12
Petition signed and shared!!! Come on guys let's go

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #65552 28 Oct 2015 10:38
Petition signed - come on fellow VE people, lets get sharing!

Shocking to see the Tugela running straight through the area. Destroying less important rivers is bad enough, but to risk SA's 2nd largest river is utter madness. Perhaps we can liquidise (liquidate?) the money and drink that...

My sister-in-law is doing her Masters on some aspect of frakking. She tells me that it is suitable for dry areas where there isn't much life, but that even the measure used to limit contamination do very little to the surrounding areas. Apparently it was a lot worse a few years ago.


Richard Hunt's Avatar
Richard Hunt replied to: #65542 27 Oct 2015 19:43
Sterkhorn's Avatar
Sterkhorn replied to: #65541 27 Oct 2015 17:11
Some recent news on oil and gas exploration in the KZN Midlands and a flyer i.r.o. an upcoming meeting:
Unite against fracking
Umgeni Water’s fracking fear