Water, wealth and whites?—?S.Africa’s potent anti-fracking mix

2013-11-12 00:00

STRETCHING across the heart of South Africa, the Karoo has stirred emotions for centuries, a stunning semi-desert wilderness that draws artists, hunters and the toughest of farmers. It is now rousing less-romantic passions.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves digging wells up to four kilometres deep, then pumping in large amounts of water, mixed with chemicals, under high pressure to crack the shale rock and release the gas. Not only does the Karoo have very little water, but the oil companies are up against a well-organised grass-roots lobby opposed to anything that could upset its fragile environment.

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