Survey finds SA concerned about fracking

2012-09-17 13:00

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.

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  • shirlee.grobler - 2012-09-17 13:36

    how labour intensive is this fracking? how many new voters will we have here in the western cape? any one have an answer?

      thandiwe.ngema.71 - 2012-09-17 14:04

      They will lose even more voters in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape Karoo if fracking goes ahead. It is not as labour intensive as you think, and the many people working in agriculture and tourism will be anxious and angry with government..

      joan.stewart1 - 2012-09-18 12:39

      This is an article from USA where they have fracking knowledge first hand. "In an intensive lobbying campaign to influence a skeptical public’s opinions about fracking, the gas industry has commissioned a number of economic studies that find huge job gains from fracking. A recent study by the economic forecasting company IHS Global Insight Inc., paid for by the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, projects that fracking will create 1.1 million jobs in the United States by year 2020. However, a closer read of the study reveals that the analysis also projects that fracking will actually lead to widespread job losses in other sectors of the economy, and would result in slightly lower overall employment levels the following 10 years, compared to what it would be if fracking were restricted. In another study, commissioned by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, researchers with Penn State University estimated that gas drilling would support 216,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone by 2015. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show employment in the oil and gas industry to be 4,144 in Pennsylvania. Desmogblog (" Major disparity in the numbers employed in this article. Next where would you start, the population in the Karoo is limited. No housing, water, electricity - so infastructure would create short term employment. Once they are finished with fracking an area it becomes another ghost town.

  • itcrackpot - 2012-09-17 13:42

    Ignorance is bliss as I notice no fracking comment yet. Fracking: A slang term for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore, from where it can be extracted. Fracking has resulted in many oil and gas wells attaining a state of economic viability, due to the level of extraction that can be reached. Read more:

  • mark.haupt.31 - 2012-09-17 13:51

    26% though fracking was a sexual term! Best laugh I've had all day.

      UncleShep - 2012-09-17 14:09


      ben.louw.5 - 2012-09-17 15:23

      Yeah finding gas in that way could end up being pretty funny...

  • arno.botha.71 - 2012-09-17 14:37

    The headline should have read: "26% of SA concerned about STD's from Fracking"

  • mikel.kiparski - 2012-09-17 15:35

    during the late 60's and early70's SOEKOR drilled very deep holes allover WHY NOT CHECK UP ON THEM and see what they left behind before drilling new wells when we already have old ones that can be tested no need for new ones

  • robert.cerff - 2012-09-17 15:38

    So what you're really saying is that SA, while ignorant of fracking, are afraid of catching and STD from it?

  • andynct - 2012-09-17 16:07

    Says it all: 84% of young South Africans worried about its impact Only 25% know what "fracking" is.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-09-17 16:15

    The survey also proved that the ANC has completely failed to educate anyone during their time in office.

  • Billy - 2012-09-17 17:52

    what kind of impact does killing all plant life in an area this big have on the climate? everyone is carrying on about the underground water, but what about the climate it will affect in immediate areas and surrounding areas(or even further along south africa?). does it or can it affect the climate?

      Billy - 2012-09-18 14:46

      im asking because i dont know, dont just thumbsdown, explain please :(

  • JBones - 2012-09-17 23:12

    It is somewhat amazing that so few know so little about the subject, yet so many has much to say about it.

  • joan.stewart1 - 2012-09-18 12:25

    Fracking to sum it up and Is it worth damaging the Karoo? No, people in South Africa need to understand the consequences of the actions Government are taking. It is a doubled edged sword, sell you on energy (we have wind, solar and other systems not even tried) who will pocket the cash?

  • rodney.scholtz - 2012-11-12 10:27

    No need for fracking.

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