While Shell has been in the hot seat with respect to their application to frack for shale gas in the Karoo, two other companies including Anglo America also have applications to frack in the Karoo.  What is less well known is that SASOL has managed to stay pretty much below the radar with their investigations about fracking in the Drakensburg.  So for those who think the Karoo is a quaint backwater with funny fat plants and kitsch sunsets, how do you feel about the prospect of 50m high drilling rigs boring 5kms below the surface on 5 acres of flattened drilling pad in the iconic Drakensberg? 

Since January the electronic and print media have been the platform for almost weekly exposure of increasingly disturbing news about the potential negative impacts of Fracking the Karoo for shale gas.  To confuse this exposure with a process to refuse fracking permits would be a big mistake.  It is not at all clear that the Government is heeding the calls by farmers, tourism associations, Karoo communities and concerned South Africans to turn down the fracking applications. 

A governmental task team set up to investigate fracking in South Africa is required to report their findings by August 2011.  According to the Treasure Karoo Action Group, an NGO with grave reservations about Shell’s commitment to environmental responsibility, the make-up of the governmental task team has not been made public and appeals for information have been ignored.  At the same time, it is well known that big corporations have a huge amount of economic and political influence to wield in promoting their business.  And it appears that Shell which has applied to frack an extensive 90 000km² of environmentally sensitive and water stressed Karoo is pretty determined to win their application. Their pro-fracking brochure, which included attractive claims of job creation and a commitment to environmental sensitivity was pronounced by the Advertising Standards Association on 6 July as misleading (pers. com Treasure Karoo Action Group).   

What can you do?   Don’t loose interest – Keep informed.  Boycott Shell petrol stations. By boycotting them you will be using your purchasing power to demonstrate lack of support for their fracking application.   Sign the anti-fracking petition.  Go to http://treasurethekaroo.blogspot.com/ for up to date information about fracking application process and protest action.   

 KimK

Click here for an article by environmental writer Glen Ashton for an explanation of what Fracking is.

Click here if you have not heard or read Lewis Pugh’s speech challenging Shell’s track record in Africa – Shell Why should we trust you?