Bundu, Falcon and Karoo Shale Gas

Karoo Basin shale concessions

Bundu and Falcon (their concessions marked in red and blue respectively) are calling for comment on their shale gas exploration plans before 16 February 2015

By Julienne du Toit

Pictures by Chris Marais and TKAG

After many months of very little action, the fracking issue in the Karoo has suddenly flamed up again.

Anyone interested or affected by proposed exploration plans from Bundu Gas and Oil (owned by Challenger Energy) and Falcon Oil and Gas exploration plans in the Karoo has until 16 February 2015 to register and submit comments on the companies’ Environmental Management Programmes (EMPs).

(Shell has not yet resubmitted their EMP for public comment.)

Bundu’s Karoo shale gas exploration concession includes the districts of Somerset East, Cradock, Pearston and Jansenville.

During the exploration phase, Bundu plans to drill several sample wells. Access Bundu’s shale exploration plans here.

(For an insight into Bundu Gas & Oil in South Africa, click here.)

Jansenville church

Jansenville, heart of South Africa’s mohair industry, could be affected by Bundu’s and Falcon’s exploration plans.

Falcon’s rather larger exploration area affects the towns and districts of Aberdeen, Beaufort West, Ceres, Fraserburg, Graaff-Reinet, Jansenville, Laingsburg, Leeu Gamka, Merweville, Pearston, Prince Albert, Rietbron, Sutherland, Willowmore.

Falcon’s Karoo exploration plans can be accessed here.

Falcon has opted to do seismic testing (explosive charges) using the shot hole method – one every 50m along 1 000 km.

While neither company will be doing actual hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as part of their prospecting for Karoo shale gas, there could be serious repercussions in terms of habitat loss and fragmentation, groundwater and other natural resources.

Who knows, for example, how these underground explosive charges will affect burrowing animals like the critically endangered riverine rabbits, aardvarks, and meerkats?

Riverine Rabbit, critically endangered, Karoo

One of South Africa’s most critically endangered animals – the Karoo’s nocturnal Riverine Rabbit.

All towns and districts in both concession areas rely wholly or partially on groundwater for its residents. Only the town of Cradock has access to surface water.

Large parts of the Karoo are uniquely vulnerable to pollution from drilling and possible fracking because of underground faults created by dolerite.

Treasure Karoo Action Group has an affidavit from a former Soekor employee, Andre Els, who attested to the fact that an exploratory deep well drilled in 1967 on a farm near Aberdeen resulted in groundwater contaminated with drilling fluid chemicals including bentonite, mica, ligno sulfonate and caustic soda surfacing nearly on a farm nearly 35km away within six weeks.

It is thought that the chemicals moved so rapidly because dolerite faults create links between aquifers. (Find out more about Dolerite and the Karoo here.)

  • Treasure Karoo Action Group has created a Falcon and Bundu EMP page on their website (http://www.treasurethekaroo.co.za/emp-documents). This is where you can find links to register and comment.
  • On the same page you’ll also find a link to a sample comment letter on Bundu’s EMPr. It highlights the study’s shortcomings. Interested and affected parties can copy and paste the sample letter, or use it as a guideline for commenting.
  • Something similar is being planned for the Falcon study, and TKAG has protested that 30 days is too short a time for submission of comments.

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13 Responses to Bundu, Falcon and Karoo Shale Gas

  1. Louis Opperman January 23, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    This will destroy the beautiful Karoo! Those politicians involved in this rape of the earth must be named and shamed, this will not be good for the country and only a few elite will get anything out of it, and those are the ones who do not care!!

    This is wrong!!!


    • Celia Coates January 23, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

      Susan Shabangu signed those documents on instruction from Jacob Zuma

  2. Q January 23, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Leave it alone

  3. Gill Clack January 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    NO to fracking!!! Leave the pristine Karoo alone! This country needs renewable energy and not fracking which is simply wrong on so many levels!!!

  4. angela January 23, 2015 at 4:11 pm #


  5. Trevor Fietze January 23, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    No, no, no , to fracking in the Karoo.

  6. AJ January 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    enter our land and we will take matters into our own hands.

  7. berne nightingale January 24, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    stay out of SA ,We say NO to fracking!!

  8. Vicky Schoeman January 25, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Where will all the water which they require for shale gas drilling come from? Have they ever considered that? And the contamination thereafter. No way Bundu, push off!

    • Di Parker February 1, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Very short term benefits (especially to foreign companies and the politically connected in SA) , VERY long term harm to the environment – we have no right to do this to such a fragile area. No, No, No!

  9. Tracey February 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Only around 15 people attended the meeting in Cradock today held by Bundu. They have no answers to any of our questions. I took notes & was harassed by one of their staff demanding to know which publication I worked for. She then admitted it was a public meeting….so then why the 101 questions?

  10. Princess February 19, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    What most people won’t realise is that the “Rights” to the land are held by the local Chief. Once local or foreign companies have the ok from Government – they will begin negotiations with the Chief of the area to frack the land. The Chief will be paid a lot of money which will benefit his immediate family. No one else in the community will see a dime … there will be some jobs but those will come and go. Once the Chief has spent all his money – he will go back and re open the negotiation process … he will disallow the fracking until the investors cough up more dough … this is the cycle that happens with mineral mining rights in the north with platinum etc. So … find out who your local Chief is as this is where the money will be spent after the necessary “donations” have been made to Government endorsed charities. If you can educate the Chief about how the fracking will effect the water for his cattle – you might have some luck. Otherwise – start making plans to move.

    • Julienne du Toit February 20, 2015 at 9:49 am #

      Thank you for your comment, although I don’t think these dynamics are applicable in the Karoo.

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