There was firm opposition to Shell's plan to explore for gas in the Karoo at a meeting on Monday in Calvinia, the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said.

“Just like Friday’s meeting at Kelvin Grove, the people at the Calvinia meeting today do not want fracking to take place in the Karoo,” said TKAG's spokesman Jonathan Deal.

“Fracking will deplete the scarce water resources of the Karoo and lead to contamination of the groundwater table.”

He said the meeting was attended mostly by farmers in the area for a briefing on Shell’s proposed environmental management plan for exploration for shale gas in 95,000 square km in the Karoo.

A senior company executive at Shell said earlier this month that the company would use a safe technique not known to harm the environment. It intended releasing the gas by hydraulically fracturing rock, using water pumped deep underground.

“The oil and gas industry has used this technique safely for more than 60 years to recover natural gas,” general manager for new ventures and international exploration Graham Tiley said.

Deal proposed that Shell should do a full environmental impact assessment before pursuing an exploration licence. - Sapa