Latest: A request for information under PAIA for the submissions of the Department of Environmental Affairs to the Department of Mineral Resources dated 2 April 2012 in response to the Fracking Working Group Report. After initially being refused because its release could “frustrate the deliberations of the Minister of Mineral Resources”, this submission by DEA was eventually released to the CER on 12 December 2012.
See the Centre for Environmental Rights’ position statement on the protection of environmental rights in decisions around fracking for shale gas here.
In December 2010, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) accepted an application for exploration rights by the Shell Exploration Company B.V. entitled the “Shell South West Karoo Basin Gas Exploration Project”. According to PASA’s website, it has also accepted exploration applications from Bundu Gas and awarded technical cooperation permits to Statoil, Chesapeake and Sasol. Falcon Oil and Gas, Sungu Sungu and Anglo American are currently awaiting a decision on their applications for technical cooperation permits.
Download all documents relating to the Shell application on the Golder website here.
Some of the comments on the draft Shell EMP and supporting documents submitted thus far (if you wish to add yours to this list, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org):
- Comment by Derek Light Attorneys on behalf of interested and affected persons and landowners in all three of the applications of Shell Exploration Company B.V. in all three precincts/exploration areas
- Review of the Draft EMP in support of an application for Gas Exploration in the Western Karoo (Central Precinct) by Shell Exploration Company, Fritz Bekker of Clean Stream Environmental Services for Derek Light Attorneys
- Critical Review of the Groundwater Report in support of the EMP for the South Western Karoo Basin Gas Exploration Application Project (Eastern Precinct), Geo Pollution Technologies – Gauteng (Pty) Ltd for Derek Light Attorneys
- Critical Review of the Application for a Karoo gas exploration right by Shell Exploration Company B.V. by Dr L. Havemann, Prof Jan Glazewski and Susan Brownlie, 5 April 2011 (2MB)
Status of application as at June 2012:
- No rights granted yet.
- Public meetings concluded on 25 March 2011.
- Deadline for comments on the draft EMP was due on 5 April 2011. Final EMP submitted to PASA on 14 April 2011.
- On 21 April 2011, Cabinet included the following paragraph in a statement: “Cabinet has endorsed the decision by the Department of Minerals to invoke a moratorium on licenses in the Karoo where fracking is proposed. The Department of Minerals will lead a multi disciplinary team including the Departments of Trade & Industry , Science and Technology, amongst others, to fully research the full implications of the proposed fracking. Cabinet has made it very clear that clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised.”
- On 29 April 2011, following some confusion about the scope of the “moratorium”, DMR issued a statement by the Minister that includes the following: “The Minister of Mineral Resources, Ms Susan Shabangu, MP, today (Friday, 29 April) announced that the Department will neither accept new applications nor finalise existing applications until the department’s feasibility study is finalised. … The department is contemplating sending a team of experts to other jurisdictions so that they can draw lessons with regard to this issue.”
- Other than the original 1 February 2011 moratorium on receiving new applications for rights under s.74, 76, 70 and 83 of the MPRDA, declared in terms of s.49 of the MPRDA and published as Government Notice 54 in Government Gazette 33988 of 1 February 2011, no further declarations under s.49 have been published.
- On 26 May 2011, the Minister answered a Parliamentary question on inter alia the composition of the Task Team, which indicated that the Task Team is chaired by the Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources, Adv. Sandile Nogxina, and comprised of Deputy Directors-General of the DMR, DST and DTI, as well as the PASA CEO. The Task Team is supported by a Working Group with representatives of PASA, the Council for Geosciences and the CSIR. No representation by the DEA or DWA was mentioned.
- On 31 January 2012, the Director-General of the DMR filed answering papers in an application by the Treasure the Karoo Action Group against the Minister and D-G of DMR (case no. 60768/2011 in the North Gauteng High Court) to compel production of certain records relating to the Task Team in accordance with PAIA. The full papers are too big to upload here, but you can email the Centre at email@example.com for a copy.
Advocacy undertaken by the CER to date:
- Media statement by the Centre for Environmental Rights, 25 March 2011
- Letter from the Centre for Environmental Rights to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, 5 April 2011 requesting an extension of timeframes
- Media release by the Centre for Environmental Rights, 5 April 2011
- Letter from the Centre for Environmental Rights to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, 30 May 2011 requesting a response to letter of 5 April 2011, and informing PASA of series of community environmental rights workshops in the Karoo in June 2011
- Letter from the Centre for Environmental Rights to the Minister of Mineral Resources, 30 May 2011 requesting information regarding the composition, terms of reference and timeframes for the multi-disciplinary team to conduct a research study into fracking in the Karoo
- An application under PAIA for details of the composition and terms of reference of the Task Team was submitted to the DMR on 28 June 2011. No decision has been communicated to the CER to date, despite the 30 day period having expired some time ago.
- Letter from the Centre for Environmental Rights to PASA on 12 August 2011 reporting on the joint CER/WESSA community workshop series, requesting further consultation with disadvantaged communities and attaching comment sheets from the workshops for consideration in any recommendation to be made to the Minister
- An application under PAIA for the Task Team report was submitted to the DMR and PASA on 8 September 2011. On 27 September 2011, the DMR advised the CER that its application was refused on the basis that providing the document would “substantially and unreasonably divert the resources” of the DMR and that the CER should contact the “relevant companies” to obtain the information. The CER will submit an appeal against this decision to the Minister in accordance with PAIA.
- A request for information under PAIA for the submissions of the Department of Environmental Affairs to the Department of Mineral Resources dated 2 April 2012 in response to the Fracking Working Group Report. After initially being refused because its release could “frustrate the deliberations of the Minister of Mineral Resources”, this submission was eventually released to the CER on 12 December 2012.
The joint CER/WESSA Community Workshop Series:
In June 2011, the CER and WESSA hosted a joint environmental rights workshop series on shale gas fracking in 17 towns across the Karoo. Read more about this in the CER’s letter to PASA dated 12 August 2011 (link above).
Previously disadvantaged communities and community organisations who need supportand advice on this application can contact the Centre for Environmental Rights on 021 447 1647 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources on shale gas and hydraulic fracturing:
The list of reports and documents below do not purport to be a full list, or to represent any particular view on fracking, in the Karoo or elsewhere.
- Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction, Pacific Institute, June 2012
- Special report on economic considerations surrounding potential shale gas resources in the Southern Karoo of South Africa, Econometrix, January 2012
- Rozell, D. J. and Reaven, S. J. (2011) Water Pollution Risk Associated With Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale, Risk Analysis doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01757.x
- Exposing the Oil and Gas Industry’s False Jobs Promise for Shale Gas Development: How Methodological Flaws Grossly Exaggerate Jobs Projections, Food & Water Watch, November 2011
- Pipe dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL, Cornell University Global Labor Institute, January 2012 (updated)
- The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play: An Update, The Pennsylvania State University College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, May 2010
- “Drilling Down”, a series of articles by Ian Urbina published in the New York Times examining the risks of natural-gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry in the US”.
- Treasure the Karoo Action Group
- Natural Resources Defense Council (a long list of articles and reports on fracking in the U.S.)