The current debate about the proposed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas in the South African Karroo region, in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape provinces is a socio-economic dilemma with many complex components that are often over simplified for the sake of lobbying public buy-in.
The government’s posture of the issue is in line with government’s policies to address socio-economic challenges, redress issues of social inequality, reduce poverty, to develop the economy, to transform and reform the South African society and to always avail tools to access post-school training, which ties in with the social target of the millennium goals.
South Africa, in the past few years was struggling with the energy needs of a growing population, seeing load-shedding processes being applied so as to lessen the pressure on the national grid, affecting detrimentally commerce and disrupting the daily comfort and convenience of electricity to al. It is with this in mind that alternatives to the depleting energy source of coal are needed, especially ones that, unlike coal, are environmentally friendly as well, in the context of the global crisis that is climate-change, or global warming, per se.
Not only will it supplement experimental energy sources such as wind and solar energy, but it will provide a more consistent energy supply, that is also in-line with the techno-scientific advancements of the global-North. South African being an importer of gas and oil from Mozambique, makes South Africa at the mercy of the volatile markets and fluctuating currencies.
The Deputy Minister for Minerals resources, Godfrey Oliphant was quoted as saying the process will create “thousands” of jobs, which is another popular justification – that was offering much needed development to the Karoo region,
Farmers are in stark opposition of the process, citing the threat of fracking to the water reserves, which is a key resource in agricultural enterprise. The process does pollute groundwater and causes air pollution as well that threaten the livelihood of these agrarian entrepreneurs. The food security could be greatly as a result. Although the oil and gas companies like Shell, Bundu Oil & Gas Exploration are said to be offering fair compensation to farmers, most are residents that are also concerned for their personal safety and interests.
Environmentalists, such as the Academy of Science of South Africa, are concerned about a more moving motion, that could most likely result from fracking – earthquakes! The fracking process could activate dormant fault lines in the underground rocks, not only that, but also the activity of pumping high volumes of water back underground after the process has been seen to elevate the seismic activity.
In, Oklahoma, United States of America, where fracking has been practiced for years now, was surveyed by the Oklahoma Geo-logical Survey and found that the two earthquakes per day reality in that region, registering magnitudes of above 3 on the Richter scale. Natural disasters of this nature are not natural to South Africa and as such, could provide wide panic, and justly so, because of the life-threatening dangers.
The ideological standpoint, of regarding the significance of the Karoo, as an ecological heritage site, protecting the rural lifestyle in the place-of-origin rhetoric, whilst maintaining aesthetic quality is the line of argument for activists. The possible job creation element, as proposed by government, has been rebutted with highlighting that the jobs that will be possibly created are of no long-term benefit, and will be less that the jobs that will be lost as a very result of the fracking.
The historical lack of accountability by profit-chasing companies such as Shell in Nigeria, for instance, calls for a Fracking Agency to monitor this emerging industry, will the supplementation of legislative creation to create a fair point of departure for everyone involved.
- Landowners’ Views:
4.Views on unemployment:
5.The viability of it as a resource: