The full report arising from the government’s ‘Investigation of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Karoo Basin of South Africa’ has been published on the Department of Mineral Resources’ website, Minister Susan Shabangu confirmed on Tuesday. Hitherto, only an executive summary of the report had been made available.
The 80-page document was compiled by a task team established to evaluate the use of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technique to extract of shale gas in South Africa.
It comprised representatives from the departments of Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs, Science and Technology, Energy and Mineral Resources, as well as from the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, the Council for Geoscience, Square Kilometre Array South Africa, the Water Research Commission and Eskom. Technical advice was also obtained from academics from the University of the Free State and the University of the Western Cape.
The report concluded that ‘conditional approval’ be given for fracking activities in South Africa.
It has been estimated that the country could house the fifth-largest shale-gas resource in the world, or about 485-trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas.
Addressing lawmakers, Shabangu said Cabinet’s endorsement of a decision to lift a moratorium on licencing exploration should be seen as part of a process to verify that resource.
“Even with a conservative estimate of 30 tcf, using the indicative pricing of $4 per thousand cubic feet of gas at an exchange rate of R8 per dollar, the gross value of this resource, to us, would be in the region of almost R1-trillion,” she said.
But she also acknowledged the strong opposition to fracking and that the issue had “divided our citizens into two: those for and those against”.
She also acknowledged that the Karoo was a “delicate place”, where there were competing interests, from farming and radio astronomy, to uranium mining and renewable-energy initiatives. It was also a “store chest of South Africa’s fossils”.
“As mandated by Cabinet, we will embark on public consultation with all interested and affected parties in addition to the regulatory public consultation that usually accompanies the environmental-impact assessment processes.”