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.)
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.)
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 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?
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.