Shale gas a 'transition' energy source

2012-09-11 14:40

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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  • andrew.arnesen - 2012-09-11 14:59

    It's a 'transitional' energy source alright- transition from a delicate, beautiful environment to a blighted wasteland that can support no plants or animals...

      arthur.hugh - 2012-09-11 16:03

      Of course you don't see any of this in the article: Lisa Jackson, current Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admitted in an interview with National Public Radios’ Michele Norris at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June 2011, “You are going to have huge smog problems where you never had them before……These are rural areas. … There is a lot of activity around those wells and that has an impact on air quality — and we know it already.” Also see: So this lying douche bag Egghead can buggeroff.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-09-11 16:57

      The 'transition' they are talking of has nothing to do with sustainable energy, which is good for the planet. No, it's to delay, make more money and then somehow retain the rights to energy which should be free for all - this is OUR PLANET not Shell's

      Andrew Nieuwmeyer - 2013-07-26 11:00

      In the past 5 years fracked gas has decreased US CO2 emissions more than any European renewable strategy. So good for the environment.

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-09-11 15:06

    O man!!! Money can let people lie! Do you get extra, working for Shell and also spin us these stories.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-11 15:51

    Jan Willem Egghead you can kiss my rear, lying, corporate douche.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-11 16:13

    The new report , "Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health," by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald appeared in New Solutions (Jan. 2012). Bamberger is a practicing veterinarian and Oswald a professor of pharmacology in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. The two spent a year evaluating all available fracking-related reports on sick or dying animals. Secrecy surrounds the fracking industry, but a few "natural experiments" have provided powerful evidence that fracking can harm animals. On one farm, 60 cows were pastured near a creek where fracking fluids had reportedly been dumped; another 36 cattle were pastured without access to the creek. Of the 60 cows, 21 died and 16 more failed to produce calves the following spring. Among the 36 not exposed, health problems were absent.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-11 16:15

    As for chemicals used in Fracking: More than 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Approximately 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations. These results indicate that many chemicals used during the fracturing and drilling stages of gas operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed. In addition, an example was provided of waste evaporation pit residuals that contained numerous chemicals on the CERCLA and EPCRA lists of hazardous substances. The discussion highlights the difficulty of developing effective water quality monitoring programs.

  • rory.short1 - 2012-09-11 17:30

    Shale gas can only be cheaper if the real environmental costs associated with its extraction and use as a fuel are excluded from the equation. It is high time that people, including government, stopped hiding behind conventional costing in order to justify the pursuit of courses of action which, using conventional costing, will yield them enormous profits whilst the environment will suffer irreparable harm and thus all life on earth, and that includes people would you believe. The fossil fuel industry is but one expression of a culture which has been heedlessly raping the planet for millennia in search of short term gains but the endpoint of which is widespread ecological collapse which will mean that the ecosphere will no longer be able to support humanity and we will disappear from the planet.

  • harry.boonekamp - 2012-09-12 07:39 watch this video will open your eyes!!same situation applies here in the karoo

      Andrew Nieuwmeyer - 2013-07-26 10:57

      If you want an example of a huge gas field, the whole of the Netherlands is basically one.

  • sviljoen - 2012-09-12 07:45

    Fracking is feuling the 3rd World War: The War for Water. If anyone wants to do fracking responsibly, all companies like Shell must make public EVERY SINGLE chemical involved in the fracking process and let the public - not government - decide whether to continue with fracking. But alas, no one will make it public... Watch the Gasland documentary for the truth on fracking. Follow this link to wikipedia or just watch it on YouTube:

  • pieter.louw.520 - 2012-09-14 10:43

    "Cape Peninsula University of Technology Professor Phillip Lloyd argued that hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo would not have a significant impact on the environment." Professor in what? Economics? Go to google maps, paste this: 31.6051, -103.3757, switch on satellite view and zoom out slightly, this is the Karoo we will be leaving behind for our children. Would not have a significant environmental impact, i ask you?

      Andrew Nieuwmeyer - 2013-07-25 12:25

      Thats an oil field in Texas, something we used to see on Dallas every week. As an alternative view the dairy and tulip fields in the Netherlands. Lots of vertical gas wells there, more than 200 of which have been "fracked" so far. Most of the Netherlands is one big gas field.

      Andrew Nieuwmeyer - 2013-07-29 17:15

      View some of the Dutch wells in Google Earth.!msg/gec-dynamic-data-layers/nLmnVqpScLc/iC8zhegeowgJ

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