Shale gas a 'transition' energy source

2012-09-11 14:40
Jan Willem Egginck of Shell has urged responsible fracking in the Karoo. (Shell)

Jan Willem Egginck of Shell has urged responsible fracking in the Karoo. (Shell)

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Cape Town - Shale gas is a transition fuel while the technology for renewable energy sources advances to the point where they become viable for large industry, an oil and gas company has said.

"Gas also emits CO2 [carbon dioxide], but it's half the amount compared to coal. My view is there will be an increase of demand for energy in the country. If you can fill that up with renewables and gas, you will still get a better CO2 balance as compared to filling it up with coal," Jan Willem Egginck, Upstream (Exploration) Shell South Africa told News24.

The company is preparing to conduct fracking or hydraulic fracturing, in the Karoo to find shale gas reserves.

Shell believes that gas burns cleaner than coal and both the UK and the EU recently expressed support for fracking.

"I would not be inclined toward a moratorium based on what I have heard so far," said EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard in 2011.


Cape Peninsula University of Technology Professor Phillip Lloyd argued that hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo would not have a significant impact on the environment.

Shell is set to conservatively spend $200m in the first exploratory phase of fracking and the company said that shale gas was a cleaner energy source than coal.

"We like it because there's a desire for gas and gas is cleaner than coal. There are good reasons to do this; we're prepared to risk money to look and see what's there," said Egginck.

Environmental organisations have deplored the lifting of the fracking moratorium in SA, suggesting that policy makers had not applied their minds to the science.

"Of course the South African government would have followed whatever is available broadly and what other institutions are saying. WWF's view on that would be that following sloppy science done elsewhere is no excuse for doing the same thing here," Dr Morné du Plessis CEO of WWF South Africa told News24.

He conceded that gas might be cheaper, but outright rejected the claim of it being a cleaner fuel.

"I cannot comment on whether it will be cheaper, it possibly will be and that would make it an attractive source of energy, but that still has to be proven.

"We would dispute the glib claim that it would be a cleaner source of energy based on the fugitive emissions because methane is a clear gas, so you don't exactly see a smoke stack coming out of a drill hole," said Du Plessis.

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Read more on:    wwf  |  royal dutch shell  |  environment  |  renewable energy  |  fracking

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