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Fracking firm in bid to do tests in Karoo

120308-Fracking- A team from Nieuwco Drilling is doing some Test Fracking in the Moutonshoek area near Piketberg. They are trying to find out if it will be viable to drill for minerals in the area. Pictures Greg Maxwell

120308-Fracking- A team from Nieuwco Drilling is doing some Test Fracking in the Moutonshoek area near Piketberg. They are trying to find out if it will be viable to drill for minerals in the area. Pictures Greg Maxwell

Published Jan 20, 2015

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Cape Town - Falcon Oil and Gas, one of the companies which hopes to frack for shale gas in the Karoo, has applied to the government to conduct seismic tests that will involve drilling shallow boreholes on hundreds of Karoo farms.

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This is part of the company’s proposed exploration programme and will involve getting seismic data by the “shot hole” method.

The company’s application to frack in the Karoo covers an area of about 30 000km² and includes 2 410 farms and portions of farms. The boreholes for seismic surveys are planned to be carried out on 426 of the farms.

The magisterial districts in the fracking application span three provinces: the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. The magisterial districts are Ceres, Laingsburg, Prince Albert, Beaufort West, Fraserburg, Sutherland, Aberdeen, Graaff-Reinet, Jansenville, Willowmore and Pearston.

SRK Consulting, which is conducting Falcon Oil’s environmental management programme, said the public had until February 16 to comment on the application.

SRK said Falcon’s environmental management programme, which included extensive public consultation, had been submitted to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa early in 2011. In November that year, the Minerals and Energy minister had halted processing of all shale gas exploration applications.

Last November, the Department of Mineral Resources told Falcon Oil that processing of the applications would be resumed, and instructed the company to update its environmental management programme. This included public consultation.

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Jeanie le Roux, director of operations at anti-fracking lobby Treasure the Karoo Action Group, said there were unresolved issues around fracking, which reflected a lack of cohesive and strategic planning since 2010.

This included the omission by the state and the oil companies to document the negative impacts of shale-gas mining overseas, the increased risk of groundwater contamination in South Africa because of the underground geology, and the large amount of bans and moratoriums on fracking internationally.

“Amid the fundamental changes in mining and environmental management regulations, as well as the fact that the regulations for fracking and shale gas exploration have not yet been finalised, environmental management programmes have been completed and are being processed.

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“It simply does not make sense that these documents are requested to be submitted when the very regulations to which they would have to adhere are still in draft format,” said Le Roux.

She challenged that 30 days were “completely inadequate” for the public to comment.

The public meeting in Cape Town will be at the Parow Civic Centre on February 11 from 5.30 to 7pm.

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For further information, call 021 659 3060 or e-mail [email protected]

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