Shell reviewing ASA ruling on fracking ads

2011-07-07 14:41
Cape Town - Cape Town - Oil company Shell is considering its options after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against it over print adverts on fracking placed in April.

The ASA dismissed four of the nine complaints, upheld four and did not make a decision on one complaint as the nature of it was such that it fell outside of its mandate.

The company is now reviewing the grounds of the ruling concerning the other four complaints and reserves its right to submit a response that addresses in more depth the complaints that have not been dismissed.

"We are disappointed by the ruling. The purpose of the advert was to provide information direct to the public to enable them to properly assess the nature of the proposed shale gas exploration in the Karoo, as well as the accompanying technology of hydraulic fracturing," said Shell SA country chair Bonang Mohale.

The environmental group Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) brought the complaint against Shell over the company's proposed plans to engage in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Karoo to extract shale gas.

The TKAG has vowed to stop all proposals to do fracking in the Karoo.


"Shell isn't the only applicant, there are many mining companies greedily eyeing the Karoo. We would like to stop this technology in its entirety in South Africa," the TKAG's Jonathan Deal told News24.

In the organisation's Critical Review report, led by Dr Luke Haveman, there are concerns about the use of water in the fracking process, particularly in the arid region of the Karoo.

Shell though, said that the advert was intended to make the public aware of the company's understanding.

"The advert was a technical statement of our opinions and understanding of the implications of shale gas exploration in South Africa. The advert was intended to bring to the public’s attention, in an open and transparent manner, Shell’s commitments and information that are already in the public domain," Mohale said.

The process has been touted as a job creator.

Professor Phillip Lloyd of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology said that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and not impact the ground water negatively in the region.

But his view was strongly condemned by environmental activists.

Renewable energy

"There are studies that have been done that confirm that the life cycle impact of fracking are potentially greater than that of coal," Muna Lakhani, Cape Town branch co-ordinator for Earthlife Africa told News24.

Fracking uses several chemicals to fracture the rock, and the process has been placed under moratorium in France and there are ongoing cases in the US.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a statement that shale gas in SA was unnecessary because the country should instead focus on renewable energy projects.

Shell insisted that the process was complex and that it acted in an open and transparent manner when placing the adverts which first appeared on April 17 2011 in the Sunday Times.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    shell  |  earthlife africa  |  wwf  |  environment  |  fracking

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