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Experts debate pros and cons of fracking

Various experts debated the hotly-contested issue of hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo on Wednesday, as...

A member of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group participates in a protest at Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, 5 April 2011.
fracking,Karoo fracking,Hydraulic fracturing,fracturing
Local

Various experts debated the hotly-contested issue of hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo on Wednesday, as part of a discussion hosted by the Johannesburg Press Club in Midrand.

Government placed a moratorium on fuel giant Shell’s plans to explore for shale gas following a public outcry.

Fracking extracts natural gas by pumping water, sand and chemicals down drill holes.

Several concerns were raised, including the amount of water the process requires and possible contamination of ground water.

Water expert Professor Anthony Turton said not enough was known about the long-term effects of fracking.

"One of the things that people are saying is that, it’s been around for a long time [but] it hasn’t. Hydraulic fracturing is a technology that is less than a decade old."

He added, "Drilling holes in the ground is old, but the actual fracking process and all the little bits and pieces that go with it – these are all relatively new.”

However, Professor Philip Lloyd from University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre said the impact on the Karoo will be minimal.

“If they manage to find gas, we are going to change the face of South Africa,” he said. “We are going to have hundreds of thousands of jobs. We are going to create jobs on a scale never seen before.”

(Edited by Dennis Georgiannis)

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