Shell committed to Karoo project

Shell Chairman Bonang Mohale says declaring fracking a controlled activity will only benefit SA.

Shell Chairman Bonang Mohale says to declare fracking a controlled activity will benefit SA.

CAPE TOWN - Chairman and General Manager for Shell South Africa Energy Limited Bonang Mohale said on Monday Shell remains committed to the Karoo project.

Mohale spoke to Cape Talk 567's Kieno Kammies about Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa's decision to declare fracking a controlled activity.

On Tuesday, a notice of intention to declare the exploration of shale gas in the Karoo, using the fracking method, a controlled activity was gazetted.

This means that fracking will become a water use, requiring a water use licence.

In a recent interview, also with Kammies, Molewa said objectivity is needed on the fracking issue to find the best mechanism that can be applied to take South Africa forward without damaging its water resources.

She said fracking will create jobs and give the country the energy it needed.

A year ago, Cabinet agreed to lift the moratorium on applications to explore for shale gas in the Karoo using the fracking method.

Mohale said, "We believe the moratorium provided a great opportunity for all stakeholders to carry out fact-based dialogue on the best ways to tap South Africa's potentially vast resources of this gas."

He said once the shale gas has been recognised, the country will have both the opportunity and potential to make a great contribution to economic development.

Mohale said the exploration would bring along with it job creation and "secure a reliable domestic source of energy for all 51.7 million South Africans".

"We believe that if allowed to have exploration rights we can explore, develop and produce these resources safely and responsibly," he said.

The Shell chairman said efforts toward shale gas exploration in the Karoo are underlined by a set of aspirational global onshore oil and gas operating principles that have already been publicised.

"We believe these provide a framework for protecting water, air, wildlife and the communities in which we operate".

He said they hope to be granted exploration rights within months in order to start the official environmental, social and health impact assessments, which will include several scientific studies and formal public participation meetings.

Mohale said Shell SA's commitment to listening to the views of Karoo residents and farmers still stands.

"We plan to explain in detail what our plans entail and discuss the socio economic benefits that could arise from this project."

Last month, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year's elections.