November 22, 2017

Economics and International Trends Sour Shell’s Taste for South African Shale Gas

It’s high time that the negative aspects around shale gas as a technology came home to roost
By Jonathan Deal, Treasure Karoo Action Group, March 15, 2015

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The news that Royal Dutch Shell and possibly other global oil and gas players are shifting their focus from Karoo gas exploration is most encouraging. It’s high time that the negative aspects around shale gas as a technology came home to roost. TKAG has warned since February 2011 that:

  • Shale gas does not produce the numbers of jobs claimed by the oil and gas lobby;
  • Jobs are specialised and unsustainable;
  • Even the best shale gas wells deplete very rapidly;
  • Global estimates of shale gas reserves have been routinely overstated by US agencies and this misinformation has been perpetutated by the likes of Shell;
  • Large scale environmental pollution, including pollution of groundwater sources has been concealed behind non-disclosure agreements while oil company executives continue to lie to the public; and
  • The South African government has foolishly touted fracking as an economic game changer in the face of solid alternative evidence that establishes a case for application of great caution in such a decision.

In the last 4 months alone, we have seen confirmation of fracking being banned or at the least placed under extended moratoria in two Canadian provinces, Algeria, Scotland, Wales and New York State. Even in Shell’s home country, the Netherlands, fracking is under moratorium until 2017. This brings close to 150 the number of places where the technology is under attack.

All of this aside, fracking remains a process that risks community health and water supplies. It poses a threat to established and critical sustainable jobs in agriculture and tourism, and its economic benefits are increasingly being questioned by economists and international leaders. And it has been blamed for delaying the vital roll-out of renewable energy while governments have swallowed the marketing hype of the global oil and gas giants.

Even though the current situation in SA may have arisen through the dual influence of the SA Government’s mishandling of this issue and the drop in global oil prices, fracking will eventually be exposed as a bridge to nowhere for global communities.