http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.15Change: -0.08
R/$ = 11.64Change: -0.07
Au 1284.23 $/ozChange: 24.93
Pt 1240.50 $/ozChange: 23.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Mar 13, 2012

Shale gas could boost economy, but risks should be assessed

Back
Director of ground water studies at the University of the Free State, Dr Danie Vermeulen discusses the advantages and disadvantages of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. Camera: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Darlene Creamer
Engineering|Africa|Environment|Exploration|Mining|Projects|Resources|Water|Africa|South Africa|Chemicals|Equipment|Natural Gas|Product|Shale Gas Deposit|Underground Mining Operations|Yearly Gross Domestic Product|Environmental|Danie Vermeulen|Infrastructure|Tony Twine|Water|Operations|Fracturing
Engineering|Africa|Environment|Exploration|Mining|Projects|Resources|Water|Africa||Equipment||Environmental|Infrastructure|Water|Operations|
engineering|africa-company|environment|exploration|mining|projects|resources|water-company|africa|south-africa|chemicals|equipment|natural-gas|product|shale-gas-deposit|underground-mining-operations|yearly-gross-domestic-product|environmental|danie-vermeulen|infrastructure|tony-twine|water|operations|fracturing
© Reuse this



South Africa potentially boasts the fifth-largest shale gas deposit in the world, making it hard to ignore the benefits that such a significant resource could provide the country’s economy, if it is implemented and managed well, director of ground water studies at the University of the Free State, Dr Danie Vermeulen, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a gathering of the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions at Gallager Estate, in Midrand, Vermeulen pointed out that a number of contradicting statements were being used in arguments for, and against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“Some environmentalists tend to distort or over emphasise certain facts, while leaving out other chunks of information that does not support their agendas. On the other hand, some companies interested in operating fracking activities have also been found to distort facts in ways to support their agendas of gaining access to the gas,” he told Engineering News Online.

However, owing to the act of liberating natural gas from shale rock, entailing water, sand and chemicals being pumped deep into the earth’s crust, the risk of pollution and irreparable damage is ever present.

“The risk of extracting the gas is comparable to that of underground mining operations. With such a substantial resource of natural gas being locally available, the benefits to South Africa’s economy could be substantial,” Vermeulen said.

His comments echoed what the late Tony Twine said at the release of an economic study on fracking earlier this month. The Econometrix modelling estimated fracking could add between R80-billion and R200-billion to the country’s yearly gross domestic product if only a small portion of the speculated shale resource base was exploited. Twine, who passed away over the weekend, also estimated that between 300 000 and 700 000 upstream and downstream jobs could be generated.

Vermeulen believed that fracking in the South African context would be harmless to local groundwater supplies, owing to the fact that the activity would take place at depths of between 4 km and 5 km below the surface.

“While fracking is harmless to surface organisms and humans, we have coined a new term called ‘fracktivities’, which pose a greater threat to the wellbeing of the local environment than fracturing shale at depth,” he said.

So-called Fracktivities referred to all the surface support activities, such as boring equipment, trucks and other infrastructure associated with sinking a borehole and establishing a working gas well. “If these surface activities are not managed well, the consequences could by far outweigh the risks of fracking,” he cautioned.

While the Mineral Resources Department-imposed moratorium on the issuing of new shale gas exploration licences is due to be reviewed and possibly lifted by the end of the month, Vermeulen pointed out that commercial fracking in South Africa is still about nine years away, owing to significant exploration projects still to be undertaken, followed by detailed environmental and feasibility studies to be completed before licences would be issued to start fracking operations.

“In light of the extended timeframe before fracking becomes a reality in South Africa, one could assume that technological advances in the period could further assist to reduce environmental risks,” he said.

Further, Vermeulen pointed out that boreholes are generally sunk and the shale fractured in a relatively short timeframe, with the only visible evidence of a gas well being a pipeline leading from the well to a central storage facility. When a gas well is spent, the surface area could be fully rehabilitated, although the chemicals pumped into the earth’s crust can never be removed.

Meanwhile, he said South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope would not be affected by fracking activities, as long as these remained 30 km away from the closest sensors.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Latest News
SAA acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni
Updated 6 hours ago Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has assured that loss-making national carrier South African Airlines (SAA) will not receive another bailout from government, noting that the most recent R6.4-billion government guarantee had only been provided in support of an intensive...
Updated 7 hours ago South Africa's cumulative trade deficit was R95.3-billion in 2014, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) said on Friday. In 2013, it was R71.4-billion, Sars said in a statement.
Updated 7 hours ago Certain regulatory approvals remain outstanding in Telkom’s proposed R2.67-billion takeover of JSE-listed Business Connexion (BCX), the parties said in an update to shareholders on Friday. BCX noted in the statement that the Competition Authority of Botswana had...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope – which is to be jointly hosted by South Africa and Australia with, later, outstations in other countries – may not yet exist, but international scientific working groups are already deciding what...
A free Web-based solar power plant capacity-planning tool offers project planners and developers, as well as governments, a means to assess the solar energy potential of thin-film solar PV power over an area of land. The tool was developed by thin-film solar...
As yet, no specific methodology, timeline or costs have been finalised to remedy the water ingress, excessive to contractual specifications, into the Gautrain tunnel between emergency shaft two (E2) and Park Station, says Bombela Concession Company technical and...
ASTRAPAK The group highlighted that executive strategic interventions and other group-wide business improvement imperatives were progressing favourably
The “seriously disruptive” electricity outages in South Africa have cost packaging group Astrapak more than R2-million in “irrecoverable downtime costs”, the company said on Monday, adding that the power cuts were negating some of the benefit of energy saving...
Bakkies and more affordable cars dominated South Africa’s new vehicle market in 2014. Unaudited data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shows that South Africa’s most popular vehicle in 2014 was the Toyota Hilux, selling 37 562 units.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks