Irresponsible fracking after-effects

Despite the so-called advantages and well-intended plans outlined in an article by Shell SA upstream manager Jan Willem Eggink in the Landbouweekblad of 21 June, Shell’s exploitation of the natural gas in the Karoo is fraught with bad environmental after-effects.

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When all the companies and people involved have benefited and the gas runs out in 10 or 15 years, and the upwelling liquids find their way into the water tables, the promise of compensation/reparation will fall on deaf ears. Once the underground water is polluted, it is impossible to purify it.

In an earlier article, Shell stated that specialised skills are needed in the fracking process and that few locals will be employed. When the gas is extracted, will most of it end up being exported to China, as the case in America? Eggink states that risks are inherent in such ventures. Is he fully aware of the environmental impact, particularly in the Karoo with its unique strata and subterranean water movements? How many farms will be abandoned in the Karoo or communities left without water?

The declining rainfall of the Karoo cannot be relied upon to replace the underground water that Shell and other companies will pollute with the ‘cheap and nasty’ method of fracking. Entire water tables will be lost forever when they drill through them.
One also has to take into account that as these operations will take place in rural areas, there is likely to be an increase in stock theft and farm crimes, which will be ‘swept under the carpet’.

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Local communities will possibly be promised schools, hospitals and so forth, but there is not even enough suitable staff to man the current hospitals and schools. Will Shell and other companies subsidise the gas price for the local people, to whom the gas actually belongs, without jeopardising profit margins?

Looking at the weak excuses and fraught plans Shell has so far presented to South Africans, it is clear the company is an underhanded operator seeking to fill its coffers at the expense of people and the environment. Shell has already left a legacy of this in central Africa. What is going to make SA any different?