Survey finds SA concerned about fracking

2012-09-17 13:00
The majority of young South Africans are concerned about fracking in the Karoo. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The majority of young South Africans are concerned about fracking in the Karoo. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The majority of young South Africans are concerned about fracking and worried about its impact, a mobile survey has found.

According to Pondering Panda, part of the World of Avatar group which owns Mxit, 84% of young South Africans who are aware of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, are "very or somewhat worried" about its impact.

The government has lifted a moratorium on fracking in the Karoo and oil and gas firms are poised to conduct exploratory drilling to locate shale gas resources.

Environmental have also expressed their reservations at the lifting of the moratorium.

"We have major concerns over the cleanness of shale gas as a source [of energy] because we can understand many of the other arguments that are made in favour of the exploration of shale gas, but then untruths must not be told about the environmental aspects," Dr Morné du Plessis CEO of WWF South Africa told News24.

Sexual activity

Most South Africans though, are unaware of fracking and the survey revealed that 62% had not heard about the process, while only 25% who claimed they had heard of the process could define it accurately.

About 34% believed fracking was a way to protect from sunburn, and 26% thought it was a sexual activity.

"Both Government and business need to do more to educate the public about fracking - both its economic benefits and potential environmental dangers. Where people do have reservations about fracking, these should be addressed to ensure support for any future project from the people it will affect most," said Shirley Wakefield of Pondering Panda.

Environmental organisations are concerned about fugitive emissions of the methane and flow back of the chemicals used in the fracking process.

According the WWF, the average methane loss amounts to 1.6% of the total resource and this had a harmful impact on the environment.

According to a Marathon Oil Corporation video on fracking, around 15% to 50% of the fracking fluids are recovered after operations are complete.

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the companies that applied to explore for shale gas in the Karoo, called for strong regulations to ensure operator compliance with environmental standards.

Transitional energy source

"Any incident in the oil industry may have a negative effect on the oil industry and we would like to have strong regulatory standards and for that reason we shared these principles in the public domain," Jan Willem Egginck, Upstream (Exploration) Shell South Africa told News24.

The Pondering Panda survey mirrors a News24 poll that also found that most South Africans are opposed to the government's decision to lift the moratorium on fracking.

Around 8 500 users, or 53%, declared that the Cabinet decision was "misguided".

Some have argued that shale gas is a transitional energy source as renewable sources cannot provide the loads required by industry, but the WWF cautioned against such generalisations.

"We understand the issue of energy security: A country wants to tap into resources to make itself energy secure, but I think it is disingenuous to remark that renewable energy sources cannot supply the volumes or quantities of energy needed," said Du Plessis.

A broad spectrum of environmental organisations have planned a protest in Cape Town on 22 September in what is billed as a "Global Anti-fracking Day".

"We are calling all South Africans to stand together, and not to allow polluting oil and gas industries to destroy our people's land and scarce water resources for their corporate profit," said protest co-ordinator Marina Louw.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    wwf  |  royal dutch shell  |  mxit  |  fracking

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