Fracking has been a hot topic this year – and for good reason.
Here’s a quick update on the situation.

How Fracking could pollute ground water sources

Click image to enlarge.

(Click here for more info on what fracking entails)

Latest Developments

When we last spoke about the issue of fracking, a six-month moratorium had been imposed. During the moratorium a report was due to be compiled to thoroughly explore the technique of Hydraulic Fracturing. The report would then be used to make a decision on whether Shell’s application would be approved.

Since then, there has been some good and some bad news.

The good news is that, at the end of August, the government extended the fracking suspension for another six months. Susan Shabangu, Mineral Resources Minister, was not entirely satisfied with the initial report produced by the task team, and so extended the moratorium to allow for more clarity and public consultation.

A new report is expected some time later this month.

Greenpeace is happy with decision to extend the moratorium, given the many concerns that have been raised and the lack of independently reviewed scientific data about the environmental impacts of fracking.

Once the report is received (expected some time later this month) a round of public consultations will follow.

The bad news is that pressure is reportedly building on the mineral resources department to give fracking the green light, despite the major environmental concerns. 

Two of the biggest companies involved in the fracking exploration, Sasol and Shell, have recently spoken up in an attempt to allay fears about hydraulic fracking.

For instance, Shell has said that all water generated from the fracking process will be properly stored and disposed of later so that it will be “virtually impossible for liquid - or indeed gas - to reach drinking-water supplies through the localised cracks induced by fracking."

But despite these apparent reassurances, we’re still left with many questions and a lot of uncertainty.

What guarantees do Shell and Sasol give us to believe that they will protect the environment? Where will they source all the water needed? Will the chemicals left in the ground not affect drinking water at a later date? And what of the research indicating that Shale gas isn’t really the low-carbon alternative it is often presented as?

I still think the bottom line is that shale gas is a fossil fuel. Even if the fracking technique could be made 100% safe, there is no getting away from the point that we need to be moving away from fossil fuels towards clean, renewable energy.

Providing us with safety assurances doesn’t make this point any less valid.

What does Greenpeace think of fracking?

Greenpeace Africa is calling for a complete Energy [R]evolution in South Africa.

We believe that instead of focusing on another potential dead end -- and jeopardising precious water resources in the process -- we should be focusing on truly clean, renewable energy solutions. South Africans need a new energy system that replaces dirty fossil fuels with power we can use sustainably -- and shale gas is not that.

Investing in renewable energies would be a win for job creation, a win for the economy, and would drastically lower our carbon footprint. Around the world an Energy Revolution has already begun, and there is a definite shift away from fossil fuels. Now is the time for South Africa to do the same and move towards the brighter future its people deserve.